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Axis vs axes

Axis and axes are two words that are often confused, they are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and may have different meanings. They are homophones. We will look at the definitions of the words axis and axes, where these words come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

An axis is an imaginary line that runs through the middle of something, a line that bisects something, an imaginary line around which a thing rotates. Axis is also used in a political sense to mean two or more nations that form the crux of a larger alliance. When capitalized as in The Axis, it refers to the alliance of the nations of Germany, Italy and Japan, and later Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Thailand, Yugoslavia during World War II. The word axis is derived from the Latin word axis, which means pivot or axle.

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Axes has two different meanings and two different pronunciations. When pronounced with a short e, axes is the plural form of axe, which is a chopping tool. Axes is also the third person present form of the verb axe, which means to cut off or to chop. Related words are axed and axing. Axes, when pronounced with a long e, is the plural form of the word axis, meaning imaginary lines that run through the middles of things. The word axe is derived from the Old English word æces.

Examples

While the report cites critical issues with Russia, China, and the Middle East, the main concern is an “axis of fear” forming in both the United States and Europe. (The Christian Science Monitor)

He opened his eyes and gazed with a frown at this small round rock in front of him, rotating on its axis as it revolved around this little ball of fire. (The Business Mirror)

Axes have been around since the Neolithic Age, but the sport of axe-throwing is much more recent, having developed in Canada about 10 years ago. (The Cherry Hill Courier Post)

In fact, there are two planets that spin on their axes from east to west. (The New York Times)

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