See also: Hew


Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English hewen, from Old English hēawan, from Proto-West Germanic *hauwan, from Proto-Germanic *hawwaną, from Proto-Indo-European *kewh₂- (to strike, hew, forge).



hew (third-person singular simple present hews, present participle hewing, simple past hewed or (rare) hew, past participle hewed or hewn)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To chop away at; to whittle down; to mow down.
    • c. 1591, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 1, Act IV Scene vii[1]:
      Hew them to pieces, hack their bones asunder []
    • 1912: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, Chapter 6
      Among other things he found a sharp hunting knife, on the keen blade of which he immediately proceeded to cut his finger. Undaunted he continued his experiments, finding that he could hack and hew splinters of wood from the table and chairs with this new toy.
  2. (transitive) To shape; to form.
    One of the most widely used typefaces in the world was hewn by the English printer and typographer John Baskerville.
    to hew out a sepulchre
  3. (transitive, US) To act according to, to conform to; usually construed with to.
    • 1905, Albert Osborn, John Fletcher Hurst: A Biography,[2] Jennings & Graham, page 428
      Few men measured up to his standard of righteousness; he hewed to the line.
    • 1998, Frank M. Robinson and Lawrence Davidson, Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Magazines,[3] Collectors Press, Inc., →ISBN, page 103
      Inside the stories usually hewed to a consistent formula: no matter how outlandish and weird the circumstances, in the end everything had to have a natural, if not plausible, ending—frequently, though not always, involving a mad scientist.
    • 2008, Chester E. Finn, Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform Since Sputnik,[4] Princeton University Press, →ISBN, page 28
      Faculty members and students alike were buzzing with the fashionable nostrums that dominated U.S. education discourse in the late sixties, [] These hewed to the recommendations of the Plowden Report, []
    • 2012 May 27, Nathan Rabin, “TV: Review: THE SIMPSONS (CLASSIC): “New Kid on the Block” (season 4, episode 8; originally aired 11/12/1992)”, in The Onion AV Club[5]:
      Hewing to the old comedy convention of beginning a speech by randomly referencing something in eyesight, Homer begins his talk about the birds and the bees by saying that women are like refrigerators: they’re all about six feet tall and weigh three hundred pounds and make ice cubes.
    • 2013 October 2, Pappademas, Alex, “Leuqes! LEUQES! LEUQES! – The Shining sequel and what it says about Stephen King”, in[6], retrieved 2013-10-16:
      King recovered the rights on the condition that he'd stop publicly disparaging Kubrick's version. "For a long time I hewed that line," he told CBS News in June. "And then Mr. Kubrick died. So now I figured, what the hell. I've gone back to saying mean things about it."

Derived termsEdit


Etymology 2Edit


hew (countable and uncountable, plural hews)

  1. (obsolete) hue; colour
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chaucer to this entry?)
  2. (obsolete) shape; form
  3. (obsolete) Destruction by cutting down.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for hew in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)