anvil

noun

an·​vil ˈan-vəl How to pronounce anvil (audio)
1
: a heavy usually steel-faced iron block on which metal is shaped (as by hand hammering)
2
: incus
3
: the anvil–shaped top of a cumulonimbus

Illustration of anvil

Illustration of anvil
  • anvil 1

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web As the number of bacteria in mosquitoes' guts (x axis) went up, the malaria parasite levels dropped faster than a cartoon anvil. Veronique Greenwood, Discover Magazine, 13 May 2011 But social media can be like an anvil and a pair of underwear. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 18 Dec. 2022 Given their velocities of many times the speed of sound, these small objects have the kinetic energy of a falling anvil. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 14 Dec. 2022 The researchers achieved this in tiny quantities of material inside a diamond anvil that crushed its contents with mind-boggling forces. The Physics Arxiv Blog, Discover Magazine, 23 Apr. 2021 Anvil pruners have one straight blade that closes against a flat surface, like a hammer hitting an anvil. Beth Botts, Chicago Tribune, 3 Dec. 2022 The subject is an anvil of sorts around Caruso’s neck and forces him to stray from the centerpieces of his campaign, which are homelessness, corruption and public safety. Los Angeles Times, 8 Oct. 2022 For the 2020 Nature paper, Dias and colleagues added carbon, crushed the mix in a diamond anvil cell, and heated it with a laser to create a new substance. Byeric Hand, science.org, 26 Sep. 2022 Add other essentials like a portable charger, laptop, battery pack, and a bite to eat and suddenly your backpack can feel like an anvil. Harry Rabinowitz, Popular Mechanics, 8 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anvil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English anfeld, anefelt, anvelt, anvyll, going back to Old English anfealt and anefilt, anelfilte, going back to Germanic *ana-falta- and *ana-feltja- (whence also, from the first, Old High German anafalz "anvil" and from the second, Middle Dutch aenvilte, anevilte), from *ana- "on" and *-falta-, *-feltja-, nominal derivatives from *faltan-, taken to mean "to strike, beat" — more at felt entry 1

Note: The word anvil was originally a deverbal compound meaning in effect "the thing on which striking is done." Already in Old English the makeup of the compound would have been less than transparent, as a verb corresponding to the deverbal second element -fealt/-filt(e) does not appear to have existed (or at least is not attested). Such a verb does exist in Old High German, though only in extended and/or specialized senses (see the note at felt entry 1). Parallel to *ana-falta-/*ana-feltja- were other Germanic compounds meaning "anvil": *ana-bauta- (whence Middle Low German anebōt, ambōt, Old High German anabōz, present-day German Amboß), from *bautan- "to strike, beat" (see beat entry 1); and *ana-baltja- (whence Middle Low German ānebelte, Middle Dutch aenbelt, Dutch aanbeeld, Old High German anabelzi) and *ana-bulta- (whence Middle Low German ānebolt, ambolt, Old High German anabolz), from the verbal base behind Old English bolt "bolt, arrow," Old High German bolz "bolt, hot iron" (see bolt entry 1). It has been suggested that all the Germanic compounds are calques on Latin incūd-. incūs "anvil," formed from in- in- entry 2 + cūdere "to beat, strike, hammer." Alternatively, the formation of such nouns may have been a European areal feature; compare Russian nakovál'nja "anvil," from na- "on" and a derivative of the verb kovát' "to hammer, forge," Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian nâkōvanj.

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of anvil was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near anvil

Cite this Entry

“Anvil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anvil. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

anvil

noun
an·​vil ˈan-vəl How to pronounce anvil (audio)
1
: a heavy iron block on which metal is shaped (as by hammering)
2
: the middle bone of the chain of three small bones in the ear of a mammal

called also incus

Medical Definition

anvil

noun
an·​vil ˈan-vəl How to pronounce anvil (audio)
: incus

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