The plural of Axis: Here’s what it is and how to use it

This guide will give you all the information you need about the definition of axis (there’s more than one!), alternative english plural form, synonyms, antonyms, origin and more!

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What is the definition of the word axis?

According to Merriam-Webster.com, the new and old English language word axis has multiple definitions and uses. 

–       “A straight line or reference line about which a body or a geometric figure rotates or may be supposed to rotate” – this is one of the most common uses for the word. You may have heard the Earth described as “rotating on its axis.”

–       The word axis also applies to the line that divides two symmetrical parts of a shape, also known as the axis of symmetry. In other words, the axis of a cylinder is the part of the shape which contains the center.

–       Axis is also used to describe the two perpendicular lines on a coordinate grid ­– these are called the X axis and Y axis and meet together at a right angle. This grid is also known as the Cartesian coordinate system. 

–       In human anatomy, the axis is the part of the neck on which the head rotates or the second cervical vertebra. 

–       In botany, the study of plants, an axis is a plant’s stem.

–       There is a species of deer called the axis deer. 

–       In crystallography, according to Merriam-Webster’s unabridged English dictionary and thesaurus, an axis is “one of several imaginary lines assumed in describing the positions of the planes by which a crystal is bounded and the positions of atoms in the structure of the crystal.”

–       Axis can also be used to describe the line on which progression or growth occurs.

–       In art, an axis is an imaginary line within a work on which elements of the work are arranged.

–       In aviation, an airplane is described as having three principal axes – these are called the yaw, the pitchand the roll.

–       An axis of countries is a political alliance or coalition. In World War II, Germany, Italy and Japan were known as the Axis powers ­­­­­­­– this was the first time axis was used as an adjective.

–       Finally, the axis can also refer to the center point of anything. In writing, the word is used to describe the defining, central point of ideas, movements and events. 

What is the plural form of the word axis?

In almost every instance, Axis is used as a singular noun, unless being used as an adjective to describe the nations of Germany, Italy and Japan in World War II. The plural form of axis is axes, and is simply a change in the end of the word. The nouns ending changes from “-is” to “-es.”

The History And Origin Of The Word

Axis was first used to describe the point on which the Earth rotates in the 14th century, the 1300s. In the late 1930s, as World War II was beginning, the word was first used as an adjective when it became the descriptive title of the nations of Germany, Italy and Japan.

 Its origins date back to Greek and Latin forms such as ˈæksiːz, æksɪs, and axises. 

Examples Of The Word In Context

As you have learned, Axis and axes have multiple uses and definitions. Below is an example sentence of each of these definitions. Use this list as a handy guide for using the word in any context!

Axis and Axes referring to the axis of rotation in a rotating figure:

–       “It is essential to find the axes of all geometric shapes in order to determine their points of symmetry.”

–       “The earth spins on its axis, circling around the sun.”

Axis and Axes in anatomy:

–       “The head rotates on the axis of the neck, the second of the neck’s seven vertebrae.”

Axis and Axes in botany:

–       “The axes of the plants were being choked by an invasive vine.”

–       “A dandelion’s axis holds the weed up, allowing it to disperse spores.”

Axis and Axes in crystallography:

–       “The crystallographic axes are used to determine the position of an atom within one of the crystal’s cells.”

Axis and Axes in Art:

–       “The artist embraced symmetry in the painting by arranging all of the elements around an imaginary straight line, or axis.”

Axis and Axes in aviation:

–       “The three axes of rotation in an aircraft are the yaw, the roll and the pitch.”

Axis as an adjective:

–       “The three Axis powers in World War II were Germany, Italy and Japan.”

Synonyms For Axis And Axes

–       Base: Use as a synonym for axis in the context of power, or to refer to the center of something.

–       Capital: Not to be confused with capitol, a capital is the center or headquarters of a principality or movement. 

–       Center 

–       Core: This is a particularly useful synonym when referring to the earth’s axis.

–       Cynosure: A cynosure, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, is “a guiding or motivating purpose or principle.” Remember that the word axis can be used to describe the center of an idea or movement ­­­– in this context, it is useful to use cynosure as a synonym.

–       Epicenter: Epicenter has similar uses to cynosure and core as a synonym for axis.

–       Alliance: Use alliance as a synonym for axis when referring to a coalition of political powers.

–       Coalition: Synonym for axis in a political context

–       Confederacy: Defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as “an association of persons, parties, or states for mutual assistance and protection,” confederacy is another useful synonym for the political use of axis.

One Word, Many Meanings

When reading and writing, you will encounter axis and axes in many contexts. Use what you have learned from this article to correctly interpret each occurrence of the word ­– there are a lot of them! Axis is a versatile term with ample uses for a writer.

Now that you know the ins and outs of how to use axis and axes in your writing, you’re ready to make the most of this multi-meaning word in future work! If you ever forget the many definitions and uses for the word, just check back in at this article for a quick refresher. After that, you’ll be good to go.

Sources:

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/axis
  2. https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/rotations.html
  3. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/why-we-call-axis-powers-axis-powers-180960980/