Green’s Dictionary of Slang

meat axe n.

1. (US) used in similes, see below.

[US]Albany Microscope (NY) 1 Dec. n.p.: The Judge has a clear ‘meat-axe dispoistion’ — and [...] not having had ‘a fight for ten days,’ he felt ‘wolfy about the head and shoulders’.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker II 127: She was as smart as a fox-trap, and as wicked as a meat-axe.
[US]‘Jonathan Slick’ High life in N.Y. 57/1: [...] sez she, as spiteful as a meat-axe jest ground.
[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms.
[US]N.O. Weekly Delta 23 Nov. p.1 in A.P. Hudson Humor of the Old Deep South (1936) n.p.: I went aboard as sassy as a meat-axe, and struttin’ ’bout de dex as large as life.
[US]A.S. Fleischman Venetian Blonde (2006) 188: She was not quite as gentle and kindly as a meat axe.

2. (Aus./N.Z.) an eccentric, a mad person.

[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 20 Dec. 4/4: Our old friend Varley, Knight of the Meat-axe, has been specially engaged [...] to play The Demon.
[NZ]Dominion (Wellington) 27 Sept. 10: Assorted meat axes and wombats like Gilbert Miles [...] will provide supporting sideshows [DNZE].
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Zero at the Bone [ebook] Cleo and his meat axes rocked up.

In phrases

mad as a meat axe (adj.) (Aus./N.Z./US)

1. (also wild as a meat axe) very angry.

Whig Standard (Wash., DC) 15 Dec. 1/5: If they cannot accomplish it, they will go off mad as a meataxe muttering to themselves.
[UK]Worcs. Chron. 21 Mar. 6/1: I feel as mad as a meat axe, and I hope I may be darned to all darnation if I wouldn’t chaw up your ugly, mummyised corpse.
[US]R.F. Burton City of the Saints 227: I’m intire mad as a meat axe.
Adelaide Obs. 12 Apr. 41/3: He got as mad as a meat axe and swore awful.
Dly Gaz. for Middlesbrough 30 Aug. 4/4: I hear that Sarastra is as mad as a meat axe about it.
[Aus]Western Mail (Perth) 11 Mar. 34/3: Me nose was skinned, one eye was bung an’ I’d broken a tooth. Strewth! I was as mad as a meat-axe.
[UK]F. Anthony ‘Gus Tomlins’ in Me And Gus (1977) 172: They looked as mad as meat-axes, thinking about the cat, but neither had the nerve to say anything.
[NZ]D. Davin For the Rest of Our Lives 76: The Colonel had come out, mad as a meat-axe.
[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 212: I’m sick as a dog and mad as a meat-axe.
[Aus]B. Hesling Dinkumization or Depommification 48: Frank, in the manner of Australians standing up to criticism, was mad as a meat axe.
O. Sansom Stewart Islanders 145: Sold to him as ‘bullocks broken in to the harness’ they were ‘wild as meat-axes’.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Real Thing We know he’s a mug [...] but he’s also mad as a meat axe: .

2. (also all about / silly as a tin of worms) lit. or fig., completely insane.

Pittsworth Sentinel (Qld) 21 July 2/7: The butcher may go as mad as a meat axe; a cricketer, batty; I a motor mechanic, cranky; and a vegetarian, off his onion.
[US]J.A.W. Bennett ‘Eng. as it is Spoken in N.Z.’ in AS XVIII:2 Apr. 90: Phrases like ‘mad as a maggot’, ‘mad as a meat axe’ are obviously linked with these expressions [i.e. to go maggoty].
[NZ]G. Slatter Gun in My Hand 231: He went mad and they shot him mad as a meat axe.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Cop This Lot 15: Ironed me bloody socks yesterday. Put fruit salts in the gravy the night before. Mad as a meat-axe she is.
[Aus]D. Ireland Burn 97: Struth, love, you’re mad as a meat-axe.
[Aus]N. Keesing Lily on the Dustbin 132: The exasperating person who is ‘mad as a meat ant (or meat axe)’, ‘silly as a tin of worms (or a cut snake)’.
[Aus]M. Walker How to Kiss a Crocodile 101: A couple of coffees later I was all about like a tin of worms. Couldn’t wait to board the plane.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Boys from Binjiwunyawunya 195: I make out I’m mad as a meat axe [...] Pleading insanity and diminished responsibility.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper From The Inside 49: The drag queen was as mad as a meat axe and about as dangerous.
[Aus]Bug (Aus.) Apr. 🌐 Race and religion aside, Hopa is as mad as a meataxe.
savage as a meat axe (adj.) (also fierce as a meat axe)

very angry.

[US]New Eng. Mag. Oct. 317: He felt ‘as savage,’ he swore, ‘as a meat-axe’.
[US]D. Crockett Narrative of the Life of D.C. (1934) 45: The old lady appeared to be mighty wrathy; and when I broached the subject, she looked at me as savage as a meat axe.
[US]C.M. Kirkland Forest Life I 103: Why, you don’t eat nothing! [...] ridin’ don’t agree with you, I guess! Now, for my part, it makes me savage as a meat-axe.
[US]Spirit of the Times (Phila.) Feb. 10 n.p.: He was as keen and fierce as a meat axe.
[UK]‘Epistle from Joe Muggins’s Dog’ in Era (London) 29 Oct. 3/3: Anson lookt as savage as a meat axe about, and the lot tried to gammon it was all right.
Polly Peasblossom’s Wedding 149: [He] looked at me right plum in the face, as savage as er meat axe.
[US]J.G. Holland Bay Path 88: He looked as savage as a meat axe, till she began to cry and take on.
[US]Dayton Dly Empire (OH) 19 June 1/4: ’Come quick! He’s got deadly weapons [...] and looks savage as a meat axe’.
[US]Elk Co. Advocate (Ridgway, PA) 13 July 1/2: I had been brooding over Abner, till I was gloom and savage asa meat-axe.
[US]Northern Trib. (Cheboygan, MI) 11 Aug. 10/1: I’m going to buy Hobart Hogley’s big dog, that is savage as a meat axe.
S Johns Herald (AZ) 18 June 4/2: [The lion] was full grown and as savage as a meat axe.
[US]Bridgeport Eve. Farmer (CT) 22 Jan. 12/1: The Standard is ‘savage as a meat axe’ on the office holders of this city.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 July 36/2: Savage as a meat-axe, she grabs him by one arm, and drags at him strongly to get him in the open.