sledge·ham·mer | \ˈslej-ˌha-mər \

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

Los Angeles police in 2016 arrested a man who pleaded no contest to destroying Trump’s star with a sledgehammer and pickax about a week after Trump was elected. Fox News, "George Lopez uses water bottle to pretend to urinate on Trump's star in Hollywood," 12 July 2018 In a December 2016 Secret Santa exchange, his teammate Jacob Herbers, riffing on Coffey’s nickname, bought a sledgehammer at the Home Depot, gift-wrapped it and gave it to him. Pat Borzi, New York Times, "A College World Series Filled With Hog Hats, Hammers and Championship Belts," 23 June 2018 But almost a year later the contract still hadn't been finalized, which meant that Speedy Gonzalez's workers still couldn't start swinging their sledgehammers. John Greenfield, Chicago Reader, "Thousands of new bike racks coming to city after ‘incredibly annoying’ 18-month snag," 14 May 2018 Minnesota, which lost to Oregon State in the school’s first superregional appearance, traces its sledgehammer ritual to a gag Christmas gift. Pat Borzi, New York Times, "A College World Series Filled With Hog Hats, Hammers and Championship Belts," 23 June 2018 Walter Achterberg, the younger son of Gail Achterberg, 62, rushed to his mother's defense late Sunday night when his older brother, Clif, raised a small sledgehammer at their mother, KTRK reported. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "His brother threatened mom with a sledgehammer — so he grabbed a gun, Texas cops say," 13 June 2018 And yet, Blake goes with it and is totally smitten with how Becca can swing a sledgehammer with a smile. Lisa Bonos,, "Can smashing a car heal a broken heart? The best, worst and weirdest moments from 'The Bachelorette'," 5 June 2018 Her father styled himself as gruff and imposing, with a mangy beard, broad shoulders built by swinging a sledgehammer on the rig and a stomach rounded out by peppermint schnapps. Eli Saslow, Washington Post, "After school shootings, a teenager challenges the gun culture in her conservative Wyoming town," 18 May 2018 In the teaser, Patty uses a sledgehammer to destroy a snack aisle. Rebecca Farley,, "How Insatiable Is Tackling Beauty Standards, One Joke At A Time," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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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Dictionary Entries near sledgehammer


sled dog




sled harvester


Statistics for sledgehammer

Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for sledgehammer

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

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More Definitions for sledgehammer



English Language Learners Definition of sledgehammer

: a large, heavy hammer with a long handle


sledge·ham·mer | \ˈslej-ˌha-mər \

Kids Definition of sledgehammer

: a large heavy hammer usually used with both hands

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one that holds something together

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