Bury the Hatchet – Meaning, Origin and Usage

The phrase 'bury the hatchet' is a common saying in the English language that can be used to mean that someone has put away all forms of conflict, or that someone has attempted to resolve an old dispute in an amicable way. This post unpacks the meaning, origin and use of this most common saying.


The phrase 'bury the hatchet' is a common figurative saying in the English language that can be used to mean that someone intends to solve a conflict or dispute peacefully.

The phrase can be used as a direct reference in conversation with someone, or as a reference to a third-party whom is being spoken about.

Someone can say the phrase 'bury the hatchet' in the denial form, to imply that peaceful conflict or dispute resolution is not going to happen, or is not likely to take place: 'never burying the hatchet' or 'never bury the hatchet'.

There are several ways to adapt the saying for the applicable tense, including to say that someone will 'bury the hatchet', is going to 'bury the hatchet', or has 'buried the hatchet' in the past tense.

Implied by the word 'hatchet' is the issue or the conflict that is being discussed, which is usually specified by the context of what has already been said.

Example Usage

“After my parents got divorced, they could just never seem to bury the hatchet. They were always fighting, and then my mother got a shotgun and the rest is history.”

“If you're going to bury the hatchet, don't you think you should give your neighbor's lawnmower back to him first? You stole his lawnmower, and then he stole your wife.”

“If you don't bury the hatchet with your son, you're going to have nobody who cares about you when you get older.”

“The companies buried the hatchet and decided that they would rather collaborate on the charity project than try to sink each other.”


The phrase 'to bury the hatchet' is common in the English language, though the phrase is agreed by most online language resources to originate from a phrase that was translated into English from the Iroquois language.

The saying 'burying the hatchet' refers to the ancient, ceremonial practice of burying weapons of war in the ground as a symbol of a truce or peace.

When conflicts were talked out rather than subjected to war, it could have been said that they 'buried the hatchet' rather than fought.

According to some online language resources, the phrase was first used in English somewhere around the late 1600s, and the phrase would achieve a considerable amount of publicity throughout modern times with its meaning largely unchanged since the beginning.

When the phrase is used today, the old practice of literally burying war weapons is seldom thought of.

Phrases Similar to Bury the Hatchet

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Phrases Opposite to Bury the Hatchet

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Ways People May Say Bury the Hatchet Incorrectly

There are several ways in which someone can use the phrase 'bury the hatchet' in the wrong way or misunderstand the meaning of the saying.

'Bury the hatchet' is a phrase that can be used to say that someone wants to resolve a conflict, though the phrase is almost never said as 'hatchets'.

The phrase was translated into English, and care must be used when the phrase is said as a direct translation in any other languages that do not have a point of reference for the phrase.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Bury the Hatchet

The correct way to use the phrase 'bury the hatchet' is to imply that someone would like to find peaceful resolution to a problem or conflict.

There are several ways to use the phrase, including to say that someone 'has buried the hatchet' in the past tense or is 'going to bury the hatchet' for the future tense.

Someone can also use the phrase in the denial sense to say that someone 'has not buried the hatchet'.

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