sledge·​ham·​mer | \ ˈslej-ˌha-mər How to pronounce sledgehammer (audio) \

Definition of sledgehammer

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a large heavy hammer that is wielded with both hands also : something that resembles a sledgehammer in action


sledgehammered; sledgehammering; sledgehammers

Definition of sledgehammer (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

: to strike with or as if with a sledgehammer

intransitive verb

: to strike blows with or as if with a sledgehammer



Definition of sledgehammer (Entry 3 of 3)

: marked by heavy-handed directness or hard-hitting force trusting in sledgehammer warfare— C. J. Rolo

Examples of sledgehammer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun During the violent incidents, Hernandez-Fuentes and other gang members were armed with weapons including machetes, knives and a shotgun, a sledgehammer and an ice pick, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Dallas News, "MS-13 member involved in 9 attempted murders in Dallas area sentenced to life behind bars," 7 Feb. 2020 But validating Dershowitz’s claims would take a sledgehammer to the checks and balances at the heart of the impeachment power. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Dershowitz’s Dangerous Defense of Trump," 31 Jan. 2020 On that police raid: On May 10, San Francisco police officers took a sledgehammer to the door of Bryan Carmody, a freelance journalist who refused to say who in the police department leaked to him an internal report on Adachi’s death. Heather Knight,, "Meet Mano Raju, under-the-radar S.F. public defender, who wants to pay you for jury service," 21 Jan. 2020 After checking out the property and the surrounding neighborhood, Lane suggested using a sledgehammer as one way of breaching the door, then kill them with revolvers, according to the affidavit. Author: Michael Balsamo And Jeff Martin, Anchorage Daily News, "3 more linked to neo-Nazi group arrested in Georgia," 18 Jan. 2020 Eem, the North Portland restaurant born with that brisket jungle curry and our 2019 Restaurant of the Year, is more like a sledgehammer to the face, an only-in-Portland mashup of Thai flavors, Texas barbecue and tropical cocktails. Michael Russell, oregonlive, "Eem is Portland’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year," 12 Sep. 2019 Image Some teams present items symbolizing strength, like Minnesota’s sledgehammer, or school spirit, like the Arkansas hog hat. Pat Borzi, New York Times, "A College World Series Filled With Hog Hats, Hammers and Championship Belts," 23 June 2018 Tom Coughlin as executive vice president of football operations, parting ways with the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach a little more than a day after the NFL Players Union took a sledgehammer to his reputation., "The Jacksonville Jaguars fired," 19 Dec. 2019 Tesla design chief Franz Von Holzhausen took a sledgehammer to the door with no effect. Eric Adams, Popular Mechanics, "9 Things You Need To Know About Tesla's Incredibly Weird and Possibly Genius Cybertruck," 22 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Perhaps the most brazen took place in 1958, when two men sledgehammered the Fifth Avenue display windows in the middle of the night. James Barron, New York Times, "How Tiffany Moved 114,000 Gems Without Getting Robbed," 13 Jan. 2020 Should have done steel ball on window, *then* sledgehammer the door. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "The Unusualness of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella," 25 Nov. 2019 This aluminum-block five is a beast, spinning out a lag-free 400 horsepower and sledgehammering 354 pound-feet of torque from 1700 rpm all the way to 5850 rpm. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "Keep Audi Weird! An Ode to the RS3’s Riotous Five-Cylinder Engine," 26 Jan. 2018 Also, remember that sidewalks aren’t that difficult or expensive to sledgehammer out and rebuild a few feet away. Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, "How to get berries on a yaupon holly," 5 Jan. 2018 Historians have been trying to sledgehammer people into remembering these events. Washington Post, "Singer, fiddler Rhiannon Giddens: Crossing musical divides," 2 Nov. 2017 Bungling criminal Kylie yells as her ATM robbery goes awry (her partner knocks himself out trying to sledgehammer the machine). Lincoln Michel, GQ, "Housebound Is a Horror Comedy That Will Actually Make You Laugh," 21 Oct. 2017 Rhett LeCompte of Houma and two of his buddies have sledgehammered a niche on social media that dubs Cajun phrases, accents and topics over iconic movie scenes., "Houma resident dubs Cajun sayings over iconic movie scenes," 30 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sledgehammer.' 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 sledgehammer


15th century, in the meaning defined above


1834, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1827, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for sledgehammer

Time Traveler

The first known use of sledgehammer was in the 15th century

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Statistics for sledgehammer

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sledgehammer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for sledgehammer


How to pronounce sledgehammer (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sledgehammer

: a large, heavy hammer with a long handle


sledge·​ham·​mer | \ ˈslej-ˌha-mər How to pronounce sledgehammer (audio) \

Kids Definition of sledgehammer

: a large heavy hammer usually used with both hands

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More from Merriam-Webster on sledgehammer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sledgehammer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sledgehammer

Spanish Central: Translation of sledgehammer

Nglish: Translation of sledgehammer for Spanish Speakers

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