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 Sullivan called for help, grabbed his sledgehammer and broke down the back door, Fox 35 reported. Joe Mario Pedersen, Orlando Sentinel, 4 May 2022 Armed with a sledgehammer, two Florida men rescued their neighbor from a home fire Monday morning in Ocala. Joe Mario Pedersen, Orlando Sentinel, 4 May 2022 With a sledgehammer, Wong simultaneously screams and hit the wall of a shower. Antonia Debianchi,, 4 May 2022 His flashbacks to the church’s early days provide context in a manner more akin to tapping with a mallet than pounding with a sledgehammer — with some notable exceptions. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Apr. 2022 Cover the tub with a bedspread or other thick cloth, put on safety goggles and protective clothing to shield yourself against flying shards, and go at it with a sledgehammer. Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2022 And an integral part of this sledgehammer of a film — the 49-track musical score that moves along with a subject matter that transcends both oceans and conceived dimensional planes — was largely created in Broad Ripple. Rory Appleton, The Indianapolis Star, 13 Apr. 2022 Firefighters had to use a sledgehammer to free a man who apparently fell behind a wall by along a track at the MBTA commuter rail station in Back Bay Saturday morning, Boston fire said. Adam Sennott,, 9 Apr. 2022 Tactical gear and other law enforcement equipment was found, including clothing with police signage, police parking signs, a fingerprint kit, and equipment for knocking down a door such as a sledgehammer and lock picking kit. Adam Sabes, Fox News, 8 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The move means the 7-foot Kiwi will be under contract for the next three seasons and signals that at a time when the game is becoming increasingly perimeter-oriented, the Pelicans will try to sledgehammer their way to wins. Christian Clark,, 24 Nov. 2020 While Beijing’s sledgehammer approach — seen by many as an extreme experiment unprecedented in size and scope — worked to quickly lower the number of infections, the price in human trauma and economic loss was severe. Javier C. Hernández, New York Times, 17 Mar. 2020 The suit stemmed from a May 10, 2019, incident in which police sledgehammered the front gate of his Outer Richmond home, held him in handcuffs for hours and seized his phone, computers and other equipment. Megan Cassidy,, 31 Mar. 2020 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, 13 Jan. 2020 Should have done steel ball on window, *then* sledgehammer the door. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, 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, 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, 5 Jan. 2018 Historians have been trying to sledgehammer people into remembering these events. Washington Post, 2 Nov. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective And Sundwall said that, in retrospect, state health officials took a sledgehammer approach to mitigating the pandemic, such as school closings in 2020, when the state could have taken a more surgical tack. Bethany Rodgers, The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 Sep. 2021 The Academy Award winner quickly turned into a sledgehammer pro, getting involved in breaking through walls and ripping out fixtures. Vanessa Etienne,, 9 July 2021 There’s no in between when the world’s best heavyweights start throwing sledgehammer punches. San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Apr. 2021 Beside the sledgehammer threat of the PPP tax issue, several other emergency programs for small businesses are scheduled to expire at year-end unless Congress extends them. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, 7 Dec. 2020 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sledgehammer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for sledgehammer


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

Kids Definition of sledgehammer

: a large heavy hammer usually used with both hands

More from Merriam-Webster on sledgehammer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sledgehammer

Nglish: Translation of sledgehammer for Spanish Speakers


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