A budget is often cut by, metaphorically, “axing” workers and expenses. The budget axe (or “ax”) has been cited in print since at least 1911.
Budget cutting since 1960 has often been illustrated as a choice between using a scalpel (small cuts) or a machete (large cuts)—both replacing the “axe.”
(Oxford English Dictionary)
axe | ax, v.
To remove (officials, etc.) to save expenditure; to cut down (expenditure, etc.) by means of ‘the axe’.
1922 Glasgow Herald 5 Oct. 7, The ‘axed’ officer.
1923 Hansard Commons CLXI. 1832 Fifteen hundred officers have been axed under the Geddes recommendation.
1923 Hansard Commons CLXI. 1852 It is partly due to axing.
4 November 1911, Montgomery (AL) Advertiser, pg. 12:
AXE FALLS HEAVY ON NECK
OF BIRMINGHAM POLICE
Twelve Patrolman Dismissed,
Two Sergeants Reduced
to Cut Expense Budget
18 October 1913, Oregonian (Portland, OR), pg. 10:
PRUNE GOES DEEP
IN CITY’S BUDGET
Ax Falls in Health Department,
$50,000 Cut being Ef-
fected in Salaries.
8 September 1915, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. II7:
FEELING BLOWS OF BUDGET AX.
Salary Cuts Work Hardships Along Water Front; Two Prisoners Released; no Prosecutor on Hand; Other Deputies Out of Jobs; Branch Offices Close.
21 September 1915, New York (NY) Times, pg. 14:
BUDGET AXE STILL SWINGS.
Requests of Judge Tiernan and
Sheriff O’Grady Denied.
The sub-committee of the Tax Budget Committee continued yesterday in the Municipal Building to pare down salaries of city employes.
4 May 1916, Boston (MA) Journal, pg. 3:
Ax-Swing Tour Will In-
clude Everything But
4 April 1938, New York (NY) Times, pg. 17:
NEWARK BUDGET AXE
TO FALL ON CITY JOBS
Payrolls to Be Pared Further to
Ease Rise in Tax Rate
New York City • Government/Law/Military/Religion /Health • Thursday, April 14, 2011 • Permalink