What is the meaning of axe in: "Axe me a question!"

Thank you for your time.


2 Answers 2


It's dialect for 'Ask". The /k/ and /s/ sounds have been transposed.

  • In a process known as metathesis.
    – TimR
    Nov 12, 2014 at 22:48

I edited my answer with proper etymology.

Simple answer is that it is dialect for 'ask'

This is the origin of the word:

Old English Alternative forms

ācsian, āxian āhsian


West Proto-Germanic *aiskōną, from Proto-Indo-European *ais-. Cognate with Old Frisian āskia, Old Saxon ēscon, Old High German eiscōn. The Indo-European root is also the source of Latin aeruscare, Old Armenian այց (aycʿ), Slavic *jīskātī (Old Church Slavonic искати, Russian искать), Baltic *eiška- (Lithuanian ieškoti). Pronunciation

IPA(key): /ˈɑːskiɑn/



to demand, seek from
to ask, to enquire

Hwæt me ahsast be þam? Why did you ask me about that? (Ælfric's Colloquy)

to call for, summon; to inquire into

Ne ascige ic nu owiht bi ðam bitran deaþe minum. I demand nothing now for my bitter death. (Codex Exoniensis)

However, in America it is often thought of as an African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) or the less liked term Ebonics usage. Often this usage and dialect is criticized as a lack of education.

If you want to look at it from proper modern English usage, it is wrong. It should be 'ask', not 'axe'.

However, the AAEV permits this usage as well as other dialects in the US, UK and abroad.

Basically, it is a matter of pronunciation and not the use of the actual word axe (as in a tool used to chop wood.) It is a phonetical replacement for the word ask.

  • You're right. Many dialects have adopted this usage. However, I am almost positive it started from AAEV and spread from there.
    – David
    Nov 12, 2014 at 22:09
  • Just found an article about this in particular. AAEV seems to take the most credit in recent times for this usage but I found that even the Bible has been translated with 'axe' instead of 'ask' npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/12/03/248515217/… "Axe and it shall be given."
    – David
    Nov 12, 2014 at 22:19
  • Indeed. OE ascian vs acsian.
    – TimR
    Nov 12, 2014 at 22:45