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A wooden-handled hatchet.



From Middle English hachet, a borrowing from Old French hachete, diminutive of hache (axe), from Vulgar Latin *happia, from Frankish *happjā, from Proto-Germanic *hapjǭ, *habjǭ (knife), from Proto-Indo-European *kop- (to strike, to beat). Cognate with Old High German happa, heppa, habba (reaper, sickle), German Hippe (billhook). Mostly displaced native Old English handæx, whence Modern English hand axe.





hatchet (plural hatchets)

  1. A small, light axe with a short handle; a tomahawk.
  2. (figurative) Belligerence, animosity; harsh criticism.
    to bury the hatchet
    hatchet job
    • 1843, [James Fenimore Cooper], Wyandotté, or The Hutted Knoll. [], volume I, Philadelphia, Pa.: Lea and Blanchard, →OCLC, page 42:
      “Dat true as missionary! What a soldier do, cap'in, if so much peace? Warrior love a war-path.”
      “I wish it were not so, Nick. But my hatchet is buried, I hope, for ever.”
    • 2016 April 9, Philip Oltermann, “Michael Hofmann: ‘English is basically a trap. It’s almost a language for spies’”, in The Guardian[1], →ISSN:
      The savagery with which Michael Hofmann can wield a hatchet has earned him unlikely fans outside the literary circuit. A recent issue of Viz ran a cartoon of the critic, poet and translator urinating all over a phone booth, while two donnish FR Leavis types nodded appreciatively from a safe distance.

Derived terms






hatchet (third-person singular simple present hatchets, present participle hatcheting or hatchetting, simple past and past participle hatcheted or hatchetted)

  1. (transitive) To cut with a hatchet.