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

Wielding an hourglass as a sledgehammer against an app or a category of them will never get to the bottom of that problem. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "I Tried to Limit My Screen Time," 5 Sep. 2019 Winds pounded the building with the force of a thousand sledgehammers. Fox News, "Hurricane Dorian stories of survival emerge from devastated Bahamas," 3 Sep. 2019 Court documents detailed that a rifle and a sledgehammer with blood on it were discovered in a wooded area behind the house. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "'My Heart Was Turned to Ash.' Baseball Player Speaks Out After Murders of Wife, Son and Mother-in-Law," 30 Aug. 2019 The remains of McStay, 40, were found buried with Joey Jr. A second grave contained the remains of Summer McStay, 43, and Gianni along with a rusty sledgehammer. Alene Tchekmedyian,, "Jury recommends death for man convicted in McStay family murders," 24 June 2019 Babbitt took a few swings with a sledgehammer, and then a wrecking ball brought down the dam. Ian James, azcentral, "He took down dams, freed wolves and preserved wildlands. Bruce Babbitt is still at work," 14 July 2019 Police forced a Westminster garage open with a sledgehammer after a man locked himself inside and refused to leave, police say. Mary Grace Keller,, "Police force garage open with sledgehammer, find man living inside," 29 July 2019 Police raided Carmody’s home and office on May 10 and used a sledgehammer to try to break down his home’s front gate before handcuffing him and seizing property. Evan Sernoffsky,, "Adachi leak case: SFPD didn’t tell judge that target of search was a journalist," 23 July 2019 Police issued a final warning, and when no reply came from within the garage, police used a 10-pound sledgehammer to force open the door that was locked from the inside, according to the statement. Mary Grace Keller,, "Police force garage open with sledgehammer, find man living inside," 29 July 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sledgehammer

Dictionary Entries near sledgehammer


sled dog




sled harvester


Statistics for sledgehammer

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sledgehammer

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on sledgehammer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sledgehammer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sledgehammer

Spanish Central: Translation of sledgehammer

Nglish: Translation of sledgehammer for Spanish Speakers

Comments on sledgehammer

What made you want to look up sledgehammer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!