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 Infidelity and infighting abound in outsize ways – Peter has six children with two women, and Hap smashes March’s truck with a sledgehammer early on. Mark Athitakis, USA TODAY, "'Olympus, Texas' reboots Greek gods in irreverent Texan family saga," 6 May 2021 For the past few decades, the sledgehammer has begun most remodeling projects. Regina Cole, Forbes, "Will Coronavirus Close The Open Concept Kitchen?," 7 Apr. 2021 The dull thuds of a sledgehammer, or something like it, interrupted my thoughts. Jim Spencer, Star Tribune, "Star Tribune reporter in Washington witnessed U.S. Capitol scene," 6 Jan. 2021 During the unveiling, a man with a sledgehammer hit the sides of the truck without damaging it. Alexis Benveniste, CNN, "Tesla is about to unveil an updated Cybertruck, Elon Musk says," 7 Mar. 2021 On Saturday, the team brought out the sledgehammer again. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, "Good luck charm? Cowboys again smash watermelons with a sledgehammer ahead of win vs. Eagles," 27 Dec. 2020 Equally compressed were his plate glass pieces, in which sheets of glass, stacked one or a few at a time, were smashed with a sledgehammer after each addition. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Barry Le Va, Whose Floor-Bound Art Defied Boundaries, Dies at 79," 22 Feb. 2021 The Daily Stormer advertised the rally with a poster depicting a figure taking a sledgehammer to the Jewish Star of David. Rob Kuznia, CNN, "How White nationalists evade the law and continue profiting off hate," 19 Feb. 2021 Oscar-winner Kathy Bates plays his caretaker and number one fan who loves him so much she, spoiler, breaks his ankles with a sledgehammer to keep him from escaping. Ben Flanagan |, al, "Snow movies: 25 flaky films to watch in the winter weather, from ‘Fargo’ to ‘Frozen’," 15 Feb. 2021 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,, "The Pelicans are investing in bully ball by signing Steven Adams to two-year extension," 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, "China Hits a Coronavirus Milestone: No New Local Infections," 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,, "SF Supervisors approve payout to journalist whose home, office were raided," 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, "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 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There’s no in between when the world’s best heavyweights start throwing sledgehammer punches. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Derailed world boxing champ Andy Ruiz Jr. faced hard questions on comeback road," 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, "The IRS effectively canceled the tax break that made PPP loans so valuable," 7 Dec. 2020

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

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

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Last Updated

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sledgehammer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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 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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