An axe-grinder

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New Member
Hello. Yesterday I watched a quite famous movie Interstate 60. And one of the lines really confused me. In one of the scenes, which is in a court, there was a dialogue:

  • Please, state your name and occupation.
  • Robert Wilson Cody. I'm what you might call it an axe- grinder.
  • Mr. Cody, please, tell the court how you know the defendant.
  • He was my employee.
  • And how would you characterize him?
That guy, Robert Cody, called his occupation (his job) as "an axe-grinder". But in the movie he says that he "used to be in advertising" . If you watched that movie you'd remember him. He wears some dynamite around his stomach and never tolerates any lie.
Here is my question. Why "an axe-grinder"? I know that an axe is a huge thing to chop something and a grinder is someone who makes it sharper. But I didn't get why he called himself that way. That guy didn't look like someone who grinders axes, he wears a suit and tie. Maybe there is a different meaning. But I haven't found anything.
  • JustKate

    Senior Member
    The idiom "has an ax/axe to grind" means "has an ulterior motive," "has a grievance" or "has a selfish reason for saying or doing something." Calling himself "an axe-grinder" is a variation on that idiom. It's an unusual variation, I think - I don't remember ever coming across it before.

    Here is a previous thread on "axe to grind."
    Last edited:
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