What Does Bury the Hatchet Mean?

To Bury the Hatchet Meaning

Definition: To stop fighting; to make peace.

Origin of to Bury the Hatchet

This expression appeared at least by the 1700s, and it has its roots in the 1600s. There are two different theories explaining its origin.

Some say it stems from a Native American custom of burying one’s hatchet. When Europeans first began moving to the Americas, they wrote about a custom of some of the Native American tribes. In times of peace, some Native American leaders would symbolically bury their weapons. This showed that they would honor an agreement to stop fighting.

Others say the phrase comes from hang up one’s hatchet, an expression from the early 1300s,  which well predates Columbus’s landing in the New World. The word bury began to replace hang in the 1700s.

Examples of to Bury the Hatchet

idiom bury the hatchetIn this dialogue, a daughter uses the idiom to say she should stop fighting with her parents.

Maria: Franco, why don’t you help me wash these dishes while our parents relax a little?

Franco: Okay, sure. Let’s go. (They go into the kitchen.)

Maria: Now that we’re alone, I have to be honest with you. Our parents insulted me quite a bit tonight.

Franco: That’s true, but you said some pretty mean things as well.

Maria: I know I did. I wish I hadn’t. All I want to do is bury the hatchet, but then they say something that makes me upset again.

Franco: If that’s the case, why don’t you try talking to them about it? Maybe if you can work together with them all this fighting can finally stop.

define buried the hatchetThe second example shows two university students discussing an ex-boyfriend.

Lorenzo: Hey! Do you want to come to my engagement party this weekend?

Alba: Of course! So she said yes? Congratulations!

Lorenzo: Thank you! We’re both so excited. Oh, by the way, I don’t know if I should mention this or not, but I invited your ex-boyfriend to the engagement party as well. I hope that won’t be a problem. I really want you to come.

Alba: Oh, actually, we’re not really speaking to each other. It would probably be better if we weren’t both there.

Lorenzo: Are you serious? I can’t believe you two haven’t buried the hatchet yet!

Alba: Well, it was a pretty bad breakup. I’m still angry.

More Examples

This excerpt uses the idiom to describe how one politician believes democracy is more important than holding a grudge.

  • Given a chance to ask Duckworth a question, Kirk offered to buy the Democrat a beer at the Billy Goat Tavern the day after the election, as he did with his defeated foe in 2010, “to show Illinois families that we can bury the hatchet and that democracy is the best thing, is the way to go forward.” –Chicago Tribune

The below article excerpt describes how one politician holds a grudge against another.

  • Rubio’s chances were hurt because “Bush didn’t come out to support him. He worked with him and they were buddies, and as Floridians, we know that relationship. For Bush to not bury the hatchet and support him — that’s going to hurt.” –Washington Post

Summary

The phrase to bury the hatchet means to agree to put aside disagreements or differences in order to end a conflict.