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A hand axe (note the lack of a hammer head)

A hatchet (from the Old French hachete, a diminutive form of hache, 'axe' of Germanic origin) is a single-handed striking tool with a sharp blade on one side used to cut and split wood, and a hammerhead on the other side. Hatchets may also be used for hewing when making flattened surfaces on logs; when the hatchet head is optimized for this purpose it is called a hewing hatchet.[1]

Although hand axe and hatchet are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. A hand axe is essentially a miniature axe with a flat butt or poll on the back side of the head, whereas a hatchet has a hammerhead on the back.[2]

Hatchets can do some work of a pocketknife when one is not present, or create fire through sparks and friction when a lighter is not.

"Burying the hatchet" is a phrase meaning "making peace", attributed to an Iroquois tradition of hiding or putting away a tomahawk after a peace agreement.

"Hatchet" was used to describe a battle axe in Middle English.[3]


  1. ^ Follansbee, Peter. "How a Woodworker Uses a Hatchet". Popular Woodworking. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  2. ^ "The Difference Between an Axe And a Hatchet, Explained". Popular Mechanics. 2015-12-03. Retrieved 2017-05-14. He defines a hatchet as simply, "a small one-hand axe used for chopping."
  3. ^ "Results of Headword Search in Middle English Dictionary". Retrieved 2017-08-18.