Definition of poleaxe in English:


(US poleax)


  • 1

    another term for battleaxe (sense 1)

    ‘Both demons wore heavy, dark armour, covered in spikes, and brandished long poleaxes.’
    another term for battleaxe (sense 1)
    ‘After getting hit a few times with the poleaxe and half-moon blades, she'd taken out her opponents in under five minutes, the second in less than three.’
    1. 1.1A short-handled axe with a spike at the back, formerly used in naval warfare for boarding, resisting boarders, and cutting ropes.
    2. 1.2A butcher's axe with a hammer head at the back, used to slaughter animals.


[with object]
  • 1Hit, kill, or knock down with or as if with a poleaxe.

    ‘the tigress had fallen to my bullet as if poleaxed’
    • ‘The missile hit him full on the knee, poleaxing him to the ground, and ricocheted into the river.’
    • ‘If a rugby player or boxer had spent almost 15 minutes unconscious after a taking a heavy tackle or being poleaxed by a crushing right hook, the minimum rest period would be a month.’
    • ‘Having poleaxed the thug, she sauntered off, leaving the detail of his detainment to two remarkably civic-minded passers-by.’
    • ‘Ball had been niggling away at the Dutch striker, but, as they turned to run towards the box, his elbow poleaxed the young defender.’
    • ‘Friday morning I woke up feeling like I'd been poleaxed, as did Heather.’
    • ‘Inside is a room with just four tables, a couple of huge stacks of tottering CDs that threaten to poleaxe the barman, and shelves lined with wine bottles, each one with the price scribbled on the glass in silver magic marker.’
    • ‘But the local area surveillance technology involved is poleaxing cars, immobilising them and/or setting off their alarms.’
    • ‘There was no let-up even as he neared his century, with one glorious straight six off Danish Kaneria poleaxing the cameraman at long-on.’
    • ‘In just the second game of his comeback from a nine-week lay-off with a torn cruciate ligament, the Great Britain prop was poleaxed in the build-up to the final try of the game and had to be helped from the field after refusing a stretcher.’
    • ‘Barnado, who recently poleaxed American Peter McNeely to register the first defence, was knocked out by Nel in the first round in their bout which took place a few years ago.’
    • ‘He poleaxed Salmenaga once in the first round, and for the KO in the third.’
    • ‘The one black mark for Bridge was a serious injury to striker Phil Eastwood, who was taken to hospital for tests after being poleaxed by a clearance.’
    • ‘However, being almost poleaxed by a runaway motorbike is not usually part of an evening of entertainment.’
    • ‘In the fight with Martin, Liston was poleaxed by a thunderous right hand and was counted out.’
    • ‘Parkinson's super 40-yard angled pass split the Ashton defence and it was all keeper Trueman could do to poleaxe Fitzgerald as he homed in on goal.’
    • ‘For a few minutes, his primary emotion was self-pity, and then he looked up at the television, watching as Robbie Kearns, whom he had poleaxed with a stiff arm to the head, was brought around and the game began to unfold.’
    • ‘Unfortunately a handful of the spectators misbehaved - the best knockout of the night left one spectator poleaxed for several minutes.’
    • ‘The one blot came towards the end and a grotesque-looking high tackle by Terry Newton that left Jon Wilkin poleaxed and could result in serious trouble for the Great Britain hooker when the RFL executive reviews the video on Monday.’
    • ‘Whether it made contact or not, Cuthbertson collapsed, apparently poleaxed.’
    1. 1.1Cause great shock to.
      ‘I was poleaxed by this revelation’
      • ‘I was just stunned by how the gaps in his answers didn't seem like he was thinking, but that he was poleaxed.’
      • ‘Colonel Anderson looked like he'd been poleaxed when he heard you laugh for the first time, when you slipped and I barely caught you that time.’


Middle English related to Middle Dutch pol(l)aex, Middle Low German pol(l)exe(see poll, axe). The change in the first syllable was due to association with pole; the first element poll- may have referred to a special head of the axe or to the head of an enemy.