If you’re a lumberjack, the word hew is nothing new. You hew things every day with one swift swing of the axe, chopping and shaping wood.

It’s said that Paul Bunyan hewed the Grand Canyon by dragging his giant mythical axe behind him. But usually things are hewn with a little more purpose — with each chop and cut designed to shape, sculpt, or craft a final product. Take the axe out of the picture though, and this word takes on a different meaning. If you’re trying to adhere to rules, stick to a budget, or conform to a certain tradition, you can use hew, too.

Definitions of hew
  1. verb

    make or shape as with an axe

    hew out a path in the rock”
    hew out
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    rough-hew, roughcast

    hew roughly, without finishing the surface
    type of:


    form by carving

  2. verb

    strike with an axe; cut down, strike

    hew an oak”
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    hew jaggedly
    type of:


    deliver a sharp blow, as with the hand, fist, or weapon

  3. verb

    be compatible or in accordance with

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    type of:

    agree, check, correspond, fit, gibe, jibe, match, tally

    be compatible, similar, or consistent; coincide in their characteristics

Word Family