Which is the correct spelling: ax or axe?
Both ax and axe are pronounced the same, but one variant has an extra E at the end.
Let us look at the difference between the two spellings.
Ax: used in the US (American English) along with axe
Axe: more common in the UK (British English) and other members of the Commonwealth of Nations
However, in the US, Americans use both ax and axe while in the UK, the spelling axe is much more common. Axe is the older variant while the shorter spelling ax started getting popular in the United States in the modern times. Official publications in the US use both ax and axe, but you will almost never see ax used in British publications because they have a strong preference for the long axe.
The plural form of both the nouns ax and axe is axes. Even though the variant ax does not have the extra E at the end, it requires one when it becomes pluralized.
According to Google Books Ngram, axe is more commonly used than ax in published books around the world.
What about in American English versus British English? Above, we can see that in American English, axe and ax are both used in published books.
Meanwhile, in British English, axe is much more commonly used than ax.
Because ax and axe are simply alternate spellings of the same word, the two spellings can be used interchangeably. Just remember to stay consistent throughout your writing. If you used the spelling axe previously in your writing, stick to that spelling and do not change to ax later in the same piece of writing. Also, if you are writing in British English, use axe instead of ax, as axe is the more commonly accepted variant in British English.
- Father used the ax to chop the wood.
- Linda swung the axe in hopes of scaring off the stranger.
- There were rumors in the village that if you threw an axe into the river, you would get back a golden axe from the river goddess.
- The woodcutter bought a new ax from the local blacksmith for a reasonable price.
- The ax was too heavy for young Thomas to carry, and he almost dropped the blade portion on his foot.
- The general argued that an axe is a better weapon than a sword in battle.
- The lumberjacks use sharpening stones to sharpen their axes.
- Even though she explained that it was for filming a movie scene, the police took Margaret aside for bringing an ax into the train station.
- Marvin practiced throwing the small axe at the target for his magic act that he would perform for the king and queen tomorrow.
- The blacksmith made hundreds of different types of axes throughout his life, and he intended to pass on his skill to his son.
There are many variants of the same word with different spelling in English, especially between American and British English. From color and colour to realize and realise, there are many difference in spelling between the two variants.
Check out our article Dreamt vs. Dreamed to learn more about some spelling differences between the US and UK.