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an ax to grind (1)

This page is about the idiom an ax to grind (1)

American English


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.

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.


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

a. he helped me when I was sick

b. he cheated me out of some money

c. we're going to chop wood together

Idiom of the Day

Contributor: Matt Errey