Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    zippy Guest

    Default What is the correct meaning of 'has an axe to grind'

    I thought that "someone has an axe to grind" means
    he has a favour to ask -- he needs to have his axe ground and you
    happened to have a grinding wheel.
    However, I have come acrossed lots of situations in which an authors
    use this to mean "have a fight to pick."
    Are they wrong or are there 2 meanings to it ?
    Thanks.

  2. #2
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,570
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What is the correct meaning of "has an axe to grind

    I know only one meaning for has an axe to grind. Someone who has an axe to grind is looking to pick a fight about something. He is carrying a grudge and looking for trouble.

    8)

  3. #3
    zippy Guest

    Default That's what I thought so too, but...

    That''s what I thought so too --and I havd been using it that way-- but I heard of an other explanation.

    I decided to look it up on the web, and found this:
    http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/meanings/174000.html

    "Have an ulterior motive"
    " Origin Benjamin Franklin wrote that a visitor asked him how his grindstone worked. Franklin sharpened the visitor's axe for him when demonstrating, which is apparently what was intended all along."

  4. #4
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,570
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What is the correct meaning of "has an axe to grind

    Yes, it is used in the sense of "have an ulterior motive", but the connotations are negative. Someone who has an axe to grind may very well have an unstated purpose, but that purpose is usually negative. A person who has an axe to grind is predisposed to argue about one or more things (usually the same things). The phrase does not describe somebody who is out to spread cheer. :)

    8)

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,618
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What is the correct meaning of "has an axe to grind

    Your suggestion of 'grudge' was better than 'ulterior motive'. :)

  6. #6
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,570
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What is the correct meaning of "has an axe to grind

    I am not strongly in favor of the "ulterior motive" explanation. People with axes to grind are pretty up front about it. Indeed, speaking out to anybody who will listen is the whole point.

    "Don't mention X to Y. He has an axe to grind about that."

    They (the axe grinders) get their satisfaction (if that's the right word for it) from complaining.

    8)

Similar Threads

  1. Are these sentences correct?
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 03-Jun-2008, 03:59
  2. Correct mistakes in passage
    By Wai_Wai in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 27-Mar-2008, 07:27
  3. Correct English-urgent request to correct sentences
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 28-Nov-2006, 18:25
  4. UNDERSTAND MEANING...please help
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-Jun-2005, 04:49
  5. How say: correct behaviour; become good again.
    By Wai_Wai in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 17-Oct-2004, 17:14

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •