ax to grind
From a story by Benjamin Franklin in which, a stranger who wanted to sharpen his ax on Franklin's father's grindstone. He was flattered by the stranger into turning the grindstone. After he sharpened the ax, the stranger realised that he was playing truant.
- (US) A proposition or point of view to advocate, especially motivated by self-interest
1976 July 8, New Scientist, volume 71, number 1008, page 77:
- The design has had a rather contentious journey through the various technical committees set up by the EEC to study the problem; individual member nations with particular axes to grind holding up the proceedings at regular intervals.
A reference to someone sharpening an axe with the intent to kill someone.