Ax to grind
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British pronunciation/ˈaks tə ɡɹˈaɪnd/
American pronunciation/ˈæks tə ɡɹˈaɪnd/
01

a hidden personal motive or agenda that someone holds

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ax to grind definition and meaning

What is the origin of the idiom "an ax to grind" and when to use it?

The idiom "an ax to grind" originates from a 19th-century story written by Charles Miner, an American writer. In the story, a young boy tricks an unsuspecting farmer into allowing him to grind his ax. The farmer is initially hesitant but eventually agrees. However, the young boy intentionally grinds the ax poorly, making it less effective. When confronted by the farmer, the boy reveals that he had an ulterior motive – he wanted to borrow the farmer's plow. The idiom came to symbolize having a hidden agenda or a personal motive behind one's actions, often with the intention of benefiting oneself at the expense of others. It is often used when someone is suspected of pursuing their personal interests, seeking revenge, or trying to gain an advantage while appearing to be focused on a different goal.

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Example
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It's clear that there's an ax to grind in this political debate.
There's an ax to grind between the two companies regarding a recent patent issue.
Her sudden interest in my problems seemed suspicious, like she might have an ax to grind and was just trying to gather information.
I could sense an ax to grind in her tone during the argument.
The company's decision to donate to the charity raised eyebrows, with some suspecting they had an ax to grind and were seeking favorable publicity.
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Meaning of "Ax to grind"
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