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What is a Battle Axe?

12 Jan Posted by in • Ask a Battle-axe | Comments Off on What is a Battle Axe?
What is a Battle Axe?

What exactly is a battle axe and why do I consider myself one? Whatever it is, people always laugh when I say I have a column called “Ask A Battle Axe”. It’s clear that the term battle axe really tickles people’s fancy. Originally a battle axe was an axe used in battle. It was a lightweight axe used to cut off an enemy’s arms and legs, while on horseback. Perhaps women warriors used them because they were a little smaller than the men’s axes. The use of the term ‘battle axe’ meaning ‘formidable woman’ is U.S. slang, first recorded 1896. Eventually it became a derogatory word for a woman, especially an older woman. I think most people envision a big, sharp-tongued, opinionated, domineering woman…but what’s wrong with that? The thing is, when this term was first used about women, it was probably just because a woman had an opinion, period. Formidable is a good thing in my book.

‘Battle axe’ came to into play for me one day, when some young friends of mine and I were discussing the age thing and how I felt about being a little older. It was before I was 50 and one of them says, “hell Eleanor, lets just say you are a BATTLE AXE”.  We laughed and I considered myself a ‘Battle Axe’ from that day on. Now 12 years later, the Ask a Battle Axe column on Epochalips has really resonated with women of all ages and keeps them coming back for more. I am a true ‘battle axe’ if there ever was one.

For me, being a battle axe is an attitude.  It’s not caring what people think. AND it is saying what is on your mind. It’s about being honest. It’s doing what you want to do when you want to do it. At my age I’ve earned the right to be a battle axe. I have life experience and I’m damn proud of it.

It is also about knowing your limits. Knowing what you can do and when to stop doing it.  You know what I mean, one cocktail—not two. Don’t bother with dessert‑ it’s too late to have that. Yesterday I ate some chilaquiles and I knew right away I shouldn’t have. By evening time, even though I was all settled in, I needed something to get rid of my agida. I had to put a jacket on over my moo moo, pull on an extra pair of sock so I could stay in my chanclas to go out in the cold to buy some Tums!

Being a Battleaxe is usually associated with older women but I have met many young women who are also battle axes. It’s their attitude. Say for instance Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross in True Grit. She had cujones plus.

I say let’s embrace that word battle axe, and wear it with pride. I know I do.

In my 62 years I have learned many things and have some good old-fashioned common sense. Send your questions to

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