Meaning of pickaxe in English:


Pronunciation /ˈpɪkaks/


(also US pickax)
another term for pick (sense 1)
‘He believes that a 17-year-old youth was paid to smash the windows of three of his vehicles with pickaxes and hammers.’
  • ‘Cranes and bulldozers were brought in to clear the streets while 18 teams of rescue workers dug with pickaxes and shovels.’
  • ‘Then our youngest officer managed to stretch out his arm and use a pickaxe to move the stone the dog was lodged behind.’
  • ‘Weapons recovered include a pickaxe, a handaxe, two hammers, a spade, eight baseball bats, a cricket bat, six long-blade knives and an assortment of small knives.’
  • ‘A neighbourhood menace who threatened police with a pickaxe could soon be free again instead of serving the two-year jail sentence his crime merited, a court heard.’
  • ‘In thinner coal seams miners would have to hack out coal with a pickaxe while lying on their sides.’
  • ‘A soldier who needed emergency surgery after a pickaxe was lodged in his skull has taken his first steps since the alleged attack.’
  • ‘One of the most seriously injured was felled by a pickaxe.’
  • ‘Officers found a pickaxe, shovel without a handle and crowbar.’
  • ‘The following Saturday I arrived alone, armed with a pickaxe, spade and a selection pack of buffet pork pies.’
  • ‘She also appeared before magistrates for brandishing a pickaxe during an argument with her boyfriend.’
  • ‘Only belatedly was it discovered that a drain in a workhouse near the well had been accidentally ruptured by a pickaxe.’
  • ‘The pickaxe Stephen used was stamped with the name of the local council for security reasons.’
  • ‘Besides drink and foodstuffs the pack trains brought in the pickaxes, shovels and other ironware that the miners required when sinking shafts to reach bedrock.’
  • ‘It took six hours for his men to row out there and attack the rocks with pickaxes and another six to row back.’
  • ‘He carries a pickaxe in his left hand and holds a lighted torch aloft in his right.’
  • ‘Items on the list include skip hire, digger, rotavator, topsoil, compost, bark, spades, forks, shovels, trowels, pickaxes, watering cans, trees, flowers, shrubs and vegetables.’
  • ‘Construction projects in Kenya can be long and gruelling: foundations are dug with pickaxes and even cement must mixed by hand.’
  • ‘They dig through the debris by hand or with pickaxes and shovels, in hopes of finding anyone alive.’
  • ‘He thought it was a stick or the handle of a pickaxe.’


(also US pickax)
[with object]
  • Break or strike with a pickaxe.

    ‘Exposed to the boiling sun of the tropic region, he pickaxed and carried earth on a pole for 7 years, not having proper rests.’
    • ‘He pickaxed a deep hole right in front of the statue. Then he buried the stone.’
    • ‘In the midst of digging a ditch for a new fence line one summer, he pickaxed into a massive tangle of hibernating snakes.’


Middle English pikoys, from Old French picois; related to pike. The change in the ending was due to association with axe.