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So, just where DID the term "Axe" come from?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by DaveCustomMade, Nov 10, 2004.

  1. I've heard people use the term "Axe" when talking about a guitar or even bass. My question is, where did this term come from?

    Hopefully it didn't start as a result of the axe shaped bass that Gene Simons once used. If it is, that's a good reason for me to not use that terminology [read- I don't like Gene Simons]. If not, from whence did it come?

    Thanks! :smug:
  2. JayAmel

    JayAmel Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    Google is your friend :


    O.E. æces, later æx, from P.Gmc. *akusjo (cf. O.S. accus, O.N. ex, O.Fris. axe, Ger. Axt, Goth. aqizi), from PIE *agw(e)si- (cf. Gk. axine, L. ascia). Meaning "musical instrument" is 1955, originally jazz slang for the saxophone; rock slang for "guitar" dates to 1967. Figurative verbal sense of "discharge (someone) from office," especially as a cost-saving measure, is from 1922, probably from the notion of the headman's axe. To have an axe to grind is from an 1815 essay by U.S. newspaper editor Charles Miner, in which a man flatters a boy and gets him to do the chore of axe-grinding for him, then leaves without offering thanks or recompense.
    "The spelling ax is better on every ground, of etymology, phonology, and analogy, than axe, which became prevalent during the 19th century; but it is now disused in Britain." [O.E.D.]

    Hope this helps
  3. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    In the days of old when knights were bold and toilets weren't invented, it was common for musicians to practice in a woodshed or other area outside of the general living area.

    I'm not dead sure of the etymology, but the term "woodshedding" as it defines practicing is connected to the notion of rehearsing in the woodshed. Extending the reference, "chops" and "axe" are actions and tools you use in the woodshed.
  4. B00004BZ0N.01.LZZZZZZZ.
    It's kinda like he's chopping with an axe...right?
  5. kearney


    Jul 5, 2004
    yeah i thought it had to do with smashing em too
  6. pdusen


    Aug 18, 2004
  7. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001

    i try to believe that you use your axe when you are "cuttin' heads with the devil" down at the Crossroads.
  8. BassTerd


    Aug 15, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Well over hear in LA axe is referred to any instrument you play. It could be a bass, trumpet, keys, harp, skin flute
  9. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Nice Google search- axe and ye shall receive! :D
  10. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks!

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH

    Yeah, when I was in school it was the same thing, sax players calling their saxes their "axe". But I guess it's the same thing as string players calling ability "chops". Chops used to refer to trumpet players embouchure, and now we took it to mean your hands. I suppose it all comes out in the wash..........

    Chris A. :rolleyes: :bassist: