What is the ax? Meaning of the word

What is the ax? This word is closely connected with the Latin root, meaning "ax", as well as with the Church Slavonic verb "sich" and with the ancient German word "saw." A hatchet represents several types of an ax, used from ancient times mainly by warriors. Let's talk about the meaning of the word "ax" in more detail.

General concept

Wide-cut ax

So what is the ax? A species of ax is called a hatchet with an elongated blade. Clarifying the definition of the word "ax", it should be noted that this is an ancient type of melee weapons, referring to slashing. The blade looks like a crescent moon, with sharpening in the protruding part, and has a length of about 20-30 centimeters. In some cases, there is a hook on the butt that is needed to pull a person off a horse. The length of the shaft is between 80 and 100 centimeters.

Presumably the ax has appeared in the Bronze Age. She was known to many nations, including the Russian. Basically it was used by infantry soldiers.Only closer to the beginning of the XVI century, it begins to be supplanted by halberds and berdsh. The first one is a combination of the ax with a spear, and the second one had a more curved blade and was pointed at the ends. They had an advantage over the ax, as they were more universal - they could chop or prick.

Scandinavian battle ax

The ax has a long shaft

Continuing to understand what the word "ax" means, consider one of its varieties - the Scandinavian battle ax. It is also called the Danish ax. This is a type of medieval weapons, having a base in the form of a shaft. Its distinguishing features were as follows:

  • Wide blade, symmetrically diverging to the sides.
  • Small thickness.
  • On the sides is equipped with cheekbones.
  • The ratio of the width and length of the web is approximately 4 to 5.
  • The length of the canvas tended to 22 cm, width - to 17 cm.
  • The weight of an ax without a handle is from 200 to 500 grams.
  • The length of the handle is slightly less and a little more than 1 meter.

Distribution in Europe

Ax - military weapons

This type of ax was invented in Scandinavia. As a result of the spread of the influence of Normans in the world in the X-XI century, it began to be used in such historical European areas as Normandy, England, Ireland.

In the Russian lands, the axes were adopted from the second half of the 10th century. They began to be used more intensively only in the XI century in the northern part of Russian territory. Judging by the fact that among all the finds they own about a tenth of them, they were very popular. In Russia, the axes cease to be used somewhere in the XII-XIII century, but in other European countries, on the contrary, they spread more and more. In this case, the ax is undergoing improvement by increasing the length of the handle and adding thorns.

Later, it turns out the Polex, which in the XV-XVI centuries became one of the most involved weapons in foot combat, as well as in knightly tournaments. He has different forms, sometimes he has, like a halberd, heavy ax blades, and sometimes heads that have the appearance of hammers with a curved spike at the back. At the same time in Ireland and Scotland, Scandinavian axes continued to be used in their former form in the 16th century.

Wide Blade Ax

Wide scandinavian ax

What is an ax with a wide blade? The broadsword ax, also known as “brodex”, which literally means “broad ax” in English, is a tool used by carpenters. In the military environment, its use was limited.

This type of ax had a wide trapezoid-shaped canvas, a rectangular beard and a peen face. The time of propagation of such axes is the X-XI century, the place is the Scandinavian countries and the Baltic. The difference between such axes is the roundness of their blade. And also the fact that the space leading from the canvas to the butt was rather thin. On the axes there were often ornaments in the form of inlaid silver.

As for the finds on the territory of Ancient Russia, the ax of this type is very small, which is evidence of the rarity of their use. All of them are dated to the XI century. Broad-pole axes preceded the appearance of berdysh, which were already mentioned above. But there were also axes with a wide blade, which were used in military affairs. Consider them in more detail.


What is an ax with a wide blade, used in battle? There were axes with one- and two-sided sharpening. The latter were for the most part military weapons and were used in everyday life on a very limited basis. For home needs they were uncomfortable. It is noteworthy that in the period of the New History and at a later time, their mission was to chop heads.Thus, executioners “worked” with wide-blade axes in Sweden from the 17th to the 19th centuries, inclusive, during executions.

As for the ax, with sharpening on the one hand, they were a working tool. Their use was a great convenience when processing large-scale surfaces, for example, beams and bars. There were axes who had both right and left sharpening. According to archaeological data, such axes began to be produced in the VIII century, and they were popular in Denmark for a long time. Next, consider what the word "ax" means in mythology.


Butterfly-shaped Axis

During the excavation of palaces on the island of Crete, archaeologists have found huge axes, called "Labrys". Labrys are two-sided bronze battle axes of the ancient Greeks, which were also used during sacral ceremonies. They were known to the Romans.

Labrys reached lengths above human height. Their carriers in the Minoan culture (unlike the territory of the Middle East) were women - priestesses. Laborers were the sacred symbols for them and were used to kill the bulls during the sacrifices.Labris is shaped like a butterfly, which, according to researchers, symbolizes the feminine essence.

And also in the similarity of the word "Labrice" with the word "labyrinth" some of them perceive the association of this bilateral instrument with the labyrinth of the Palace of Knossos and the Minotaur. An ax was found, on which there is an image of a human head in full face and a profile with a crest of a zigzag shape. Today this Labrys is on display in one of the Cretan archaeological museums.

Sekira Perun

God Perun with ax

For the ancient Slavic god Perun, besides such attributes as a sword and a mace, the ax is also characteristic. She entered folklore under the name "Sekira Perun" as one of the most legendary Slavic amulets related to this deity. She was associated in people with lightning, with which the thunderbore defeated his enemies, including the Serpent, who stole the sunlight.

In Kievan Rus were also present amulets in the form of an ax, which are found in large numbers during archaeological excavations. Scientists consider the subtext of the legend about cutting off the snake's head with the help of “Sekira Perun” as a symbol of the fact that such a weapon possesses not only material strength, but also a magic one, capable of fighting even the darkest forces.

This charm was used in magical rituals, denoting the connection of the Slavs with the god Perun. He also attended weddings, patronizing family values ​​and security. It was believed that placed under the bed of the woman in labor, he eased the pain. But the most important role was assigned to this talisman as the guardian and inspirer of warriors to military exploits.

Synonyms and hyperonyms

The fact is that in the strict linguistic understanding of synonyms for the word "ax" does not exist. But there are hyperonyms - words, although close, but carrying a wider meaning. They express a generic concept, a more general entity. These words in the case of the ax with dictionaries include “weapons” and “ax”. That is, an ax is a type of weapon and a type of ax.

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