According to Dictionary.com, one of the meanings of the word 'ax' is...

'(informal) to dismiss, restrict, or destroy brutally'


Labor reforms should be accelerated so that the younger generation can find work, and regulations must be axed so that companies will be encouraged to make new investments.

I quoted this sentence from the newspaper article in the Korea JoongAng Daily, and I want to know if it is fine to use the phrase "be axed" in formal essay writing.

  • Pretty bad example. You have to use "revised" or "changed" rather than "ax". The usage is not informal, but misplaced. For example, the boss will ax anyone who leaks company secrets
    – user140086
    Oct 1, 2015 at 8:46
  • A better cutting word here is pruned. Perhaps the author meant "relaxed." Formal or not, this sentence represents a terrible idea, and I'm canceling my subscription to the Korea JoongAng Daily.
    – deadrat
    Oct 1, 2015 at 8:52
  • I would write "drastic deregulation must be implemented" if I were the reporter or translator.
    – user140086
    Oct 1, 2015 at 9:13
  • 1
    Axed in American English, when applied to laws and regulations, means "gotten rid of, repealed, lifted, abolished" not tweaked or pruned or adjusted.
    – TimR
    Oct 1, 2015 at 9:16
  • 1
    Of course, one might wonder if someone is being "axed" a question -- it's a common mispronunciation of "asked". But in the US "axed" is often used for "fired" or "laid off", or for the complete elimination (or at least very severe cuts) of some law or government program. Never really seen is used for more moderate "pruning".
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 1, 2015 at 11:50

2 Answers 2


I wouldn't worry about the informality, I'd be much more concerned that 'axing' is widely seen as an emotive word.

This may or may not be your intention, but (unless you're actually pointing out some act of provocation) I'd avoid it if possible in a 'formal' essay context. I'd suggest that Regulations be 'lifted' or 'removed' instead. If you want a slightly more persuasive term, try 'eased'.


"Axed" is not a formal word, but it is widely used in journalism. Here is one example among millions. It is also somewhat emotive. I would avoid using it in a formal essay, but it's fine in everyday speech or less formal writing.

Possible substitutes would include "cut" or "removed", or any synonym of them.

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