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an ax to grind (1) American English

Meaning: If you have an ax to grind with someone, you have a problem with them, or a complaint against them, which you'd like to discuss.

For example:

  • I have an ax to grind with Mitch. He owes me money and he's been avoiding me.

  • If Larry has an ax to grind with someone, and he meets them after he's been drinking, he can get violent.

Note: 1. The spelling "ax", as opposed to "axe", is the more common spelling in American English. 2. Another idiom with a similar meaning is "to have a bone to pick" with someone.

Variety: This idiom is typically used in American English but may be used in other varieties of English too.

Quick Quiz:

I have an ax to grind with John because
  1. he helped me when I was sick
  2. he cheated me out of some money
  3. we're going to chop wood together

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