an·​vil | \ ˈan-vəl How to pronounce anvil (audio) \

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 Gliding along, singing its song, the R1T feels strangely light and heavy, like an aluminum anvil. Dan Neil, WSJ, 9 Dec. 2021 Just when they were getting revved up to start their summer workout program, Irvin dropped an anvil on their excitement. Tony Baranek,, 9 Dec. 2021 If the anvil had to land on the Roadrunners eventually, this was the time and place for it. Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, 27 Nov. 2021 And China is the anvil on which national security debates will inevitably turn. John Bolton, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2021 Like catching a roadrunner without getting an anvil dropped on your head, adapting animated stories into live action is a high-risk endeavor. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 15 Nov. 2021 Instead our eyes are drawn to Stewart's pained face, the soup before her and a pearl necklace (the same given to Camilla, Diana suspects) weighing like an anvil around her neck. CNN, 5 Nov. 2021 What was, up until recently, consistent alignment between the the city’s legislative and executive branches has come to resembled a hammer clanging against an anvil. Zachariah Hughes, Anchorage Daily News, 17 Oct. 2021 Kansas and Iowa grew wheat and corn for the war effort; Los Angeles became the forge and anvil for knocking off the Nazis. Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2021

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 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.

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Time Traveler for anvil

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near anvil



anvil bat

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Last Updated

6 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Anvil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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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 How to pronounce anvil (audio) \

Kids Definition of anvil

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


an·​vil | \ ˈan-vəl How to pronounce anvil (audio) \

Medical Definition of anvil

: incus

More from Merriam-Webster on anvil

Nglish: Translation of anvil for Spanish Speakers

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


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