verb (used with object), hewed, hewed or hewn, hew·ing.
- to strike forcibly with an ax, sword, or other cutting instrument; chop; hack.
- to make, shape, smooth, etc., with cutting blows: to hew a passage through the crowd; to hew a statue from marble.
- to sever (a part) from a whole by means of cutting blows (usually followed by away, off, out, from, etc.): to hew branches from the tree.
- to cut down; fell: to hew wood; trees hewed down by the storm.
verb (used without object), hewed, hewed or hewn, hew·ing.
- to strike with cutting blows; cut: He hewed more vigorously each time.
- to uphold, follow closely, or conform (usually followed by to): to hew to the tenets of one’s political party.
verb hews, hewing, hewed, hewed or hewn (hjuːn)
- to strike (something, esp wood) with cutting blows, as with an axe
- (tr often foll by out) to shape or carve from a substance
- (tr; often foll by away, down, from, off, etc) to sever from a larger or another portion
- (intr often foll by to) US and Canadian to conform (to a code, principle, etc)
abbreviation for (in the US)
- Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
Old English heawan “to chop, hack, gash” (class VII strong verb; past tense heow, past participle heawen), earlier geheawan, from Proto-Germanic *hawwan (cf. Old Norse hoggva, Old Frisian hawa, Old Saxon hauwan, Middle Dutch hauwen, Dutch houwen, Old High German houwan, German hauen “to cut, strike, hew”), from PIE root *kau- “to hew, strike” (cf. Old Church Slavonic kovo, Lithuanian kauju “to beat, forge;” Latin cudere “to strike, beat;” Middle Irish cuad “beat, fight”).
Weak past participle hewede appeared 14c., but hasn’t displaced hewn. Seemingly contradictory sense of “hold fast, stick to” (in phrase hew to) developed from hew to the line “stick to a course,” literally “cut evenly with an axe or saw,” first recorded 1891. Related: Hewed; hewing.