On the Chopping Block
idiom meaning & examples

A Medieval executioner, wearing a hooded cloak, stands at a chopping block that has a huge ax in it. Caption: My job is on the chopping block if we don't get funding for the project.


Idiom:  On the chopping block

  • likely to be fired, lose one's job or be reprimanded
  • about to be discarded, eliminated, removed, etc.

NoteA chopping block is a thick slab of wood on which things are cut. It is a common item for cutting food in the kitchen.

In Medieval times, an executioner in a cloak with a hood (see photo above) would behead (cut off peoples' heads) on a chopping block using an axe or a sword. A related idiom is "put your head on the chopping block" which means to put yourself in a very difficult or dangerous situation.

Example sentences

—  Is your position on the chopping block too? 

—  At tomorrow's meeting we'll have to decide which projects to put on the chopping block. We simply don't have enough time to implement all of them.

—  No one wants to raise taxes but either we do that or we'll be forced to put programs on the chopping block.

—  I suggest you start arriving on time or we may have to put your head on the chopping block.

—  I think some student scholarships are on the chopping block next year and if that happens, I'll be forced to drop out.

—  If we lose this contract, more than 50 jobs will be on the chopping block.

—  The president was not reelected and his replacement quickly put several of his policies on the chopping block via executive order.

—  Any sales rep who has not made their quota for three consecutive months will automatically be put on the chopping block.

—  My department was put on the chopping block but luckily, I was able to transfer to another branch office.

—  It's sad so many programs were put on the chopping block last month but the alternative was to close the organization.


  • get the ax / get the axe

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