anvil

noun

an·​vil ˈan-vəl How to pronounce anvil (audio)
1
: a heavy usually steel-faced iron block on which metal is shaped (as by hand hammering)
2
: incus
3
: the anvil–shaped top of a cumulonimbus

Illustration of anvil

Illustration of anvil
  • anvil 1

Examples of anvil in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The city is holding its annual Union Cemetery Memorial Day ceremony from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., which will include music, speeches, the decorating of graves and the traditional anvil firing. Nollyanne Delacruz, The Mercury News, 24 May 2024 Supercells are thunderstorms with deep and persistent rotating updrafts that look like tall storm clouds with anvils or elongated clouds at the top. Robert A. Cronkleton, Kansas City Star, 20 May 2024 For a few bars, the orchestra stops playing and the anvils hammer away on their own—industry incarnate. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 15 Apr. 2024 Multiple rounds of supercells — large thunderstorms with deep and persistent rotating updrafts that look like tall storm clouds with anvils or elongated clouds at the top — will be possible in some areas where the strongest storms develop. Robert A. Cronkleton, Kansas City Star, 1 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for anvil 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'anvil.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English anfeld, anefelt, anvelt, anvyll, going back to Old English anfealt and anefilt, anelfilte, going back to Germanic *ana-falta- and *ana-feltja- (whence also, from the first, Old High German anafalz "anvil" and from the second, Middle Dutch aenvilte, anevilte), from *ana- "on" and *-falta-, *-feltja-, nominal derivatives from *faltan-, taken to mean "to strike, beat" — more at felt entry 1

Note: The word anvil was originally a deverbal compound meaning in effect "the thing on which striking is done." Already in Old English the makeup of the compound would have been less than transparent, as a verb corresponding to the deverbal second element -fealt/-filt(e) does not appear to have existed (or at least is not attested). Such a verb does exist in Old High German, though only in extended and/or specialized senses (see the note at felt entry 1). Parallel to *ana-falta-/*ana-feltja- were other Germanic compounds meaning "anvil": *ana-bauta- (whence Middle Low German anebōt, ambōt, Old High German anabōz, present-day German Amboß), from *bautan- "to strike, beat" (see beat entry 1); and *ana-baltja- (whence Middle Low German ānebelte, Middle Dutch aenbelt, Dutch aanbeeld, Old High German anabelzi) and *ana-bulta- (whence Middle Low German ānebolt, ambolt, Old High German anabolz), from the verbal base behind Old English bolt "bolt, arrow," Old High German bolz "bolt, hot iron" (see bolt entry 1). It has been suggested that all the Germanic compounds are calques on Latin incūd-. incūs "anvil," formed from in- in- entry 2 + cūdere "to beat, strike, hammer." Alternatively, the formation of such nouns may have been a European areal feature; compare Russian nakovál'nja "anvil," from na- "on" and a derivative of the verb kovát' "to hammer, forge," Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian nâkōvanj.

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of anvil was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near anvil

Cite this Entry

“Anvil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anvil. Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

anvil

noun
an·​vil ˈan-vəl How to pronounce anvil (audio)
1
: a heavy iron block on which metal is shaped (as by hammering)
2
: the middle bone of the chain of three small bones in the ear of a mammal

called also incus

Medical Definition

anvil

noun
an·​vil ˈan-vəl How to pronounce anvil (audio)
: incus

More from Merriam-Webster on anvil

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