an·​vil | \ˈan-vəl \

Definition of anvil 

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

Fifteen hundred sheets of regular printer paper may seem like a cinch in comparison to crushing a bowling ball or an anvil, but paper is deceptively hardy. Sophie Weiner, Popular Mechanics, "The Hydraulic Press is Nearly Defeated By 1,500 Sheets of Paper," 28 July 2017 This may be to a storm’s anvil being blown downwind, and carrying with it just enough charge to touch off a sporadic bolt. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, "Bolts from the blue: Here’s how lightning can strike when a storm is tens of miles away," 27 June 2018 Just a band dragging an anvil down the road for decades. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "One more storm of blood from Slayer, on the metals band’s final tour," 13 June 2018 There are some teachers who cannot handle classroom management, who are bullies, and who lack the sensitivity of an anvil. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "No, the customer is not always right, especially in school," 18 May 2018 The Icelandic actor’s fight to the finish involved two days of strength tests, which included pulling a truck, races while hauling anvils and other heavy objects, and, of course, overhead deadlifts. Breanne L. Heldman,, "Game of Thrones Star Who Plays 'The Mountain' Wins World's Strongest Man Title," 7 May 2018 Once collected, Wilson tells me, the wire is cut using heavy-duty pliers and shaped flat with a metal hammer and an industrial anvil. National Geographic, "These Artists Are Making Jewelry to Help Protect Their Country's Wildlife," 17 May 2018 For almost 50 years, he’s been employing a tool set that includes shears, surgical scissors, pliers, a rubber mallet, an anvil and a butane torch. Michael Tortorello, New York Times, "A Lifelike Version of Nature, but Not to Scale," 8 May 2018 Or Brazilian capuchin monkeys that use heavy stones to smash hard nuts against flat boulders that serve as anvils. Jonathan Balcombe, Scientific American, "Fishes Use Problem-Solving and Invent Tools," 1 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anvil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of anvil

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

History and Etymology for anvil

Middle English anfilt, from Old English; akin to Old High German anafalz anvil; akin to Latin pellere to beat — more at felt

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Dictionary Entries near anvil





anvil bat

anvil block

anvil chisel

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Time Traveler for anvil

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

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More Definitions for anvil



English Language Learners Definition of anvil

: a heavy iron block on which heated metal is shaped by hitting it with a hammer


an·​vil | \ˈan-vəl \

Kids Definition of anvil

: an iron block on which pieces of metal are hammered into shape


an·​vil | \ˈan-vəl \

Medical Definition of anvil 

: incus

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More from Merriam-Webster on anvil

Spanish Central: Translation of anvil

Nglish: Translation of anvil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of anvil for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about anvil

Comments on anvil

What made you want to look up anvil? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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