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[an-vil] /ˈæn vɪl/
a heavy iron block with a smooth face, frequently of steel, on which metals, usually heated until soft, are hammered into desired shapes.
anything having a similar form or use.
the fixed jaw in certain measuring instruments.
Also called anvil cloud, anvil top. Meteorology. incus (def 2).
a musical percussion instrument having steel bars that are struck with a wooden or metal beater.
Anatomy. incus (def 1).
Origin of anvil
before 900; Middle English anvelt, anfelt, Old English anfilt(e), anfealt; cognate with Middle Dutch anvilte, Old High German anafalz. See on, felt2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for anvil
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He sat down on the anvil with his heart beating, and began to recall the picture.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • My heart was pounding until in my own ears it sounded like an anvil chorus.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • He was a real sleight-of-hand man, and the anvil was his orchestra.

  • In the middle of this chamber, two smiths, with hammers, stood beside an anvil.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • Rotha could hear the thick breathing of the bellows and the thin tinkle of the anvil.

British Dictionary definitions for anvil


a heavy iron or steel block on which metals are hammered during forging
any part having a similar shape or function, such as the lower part of a telegraph key
the fixed jaw of a measurement device against which the piece to be measured is held
(anatomy) the nontechnical name for incus
Word Origin
Old English anfealt; related to Old High German anafalz, Middle Dutch anvilte; see on, felt²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for anvil

Old English anfilt, a West Germanic compound (cf. Middle Dutch anvilt, Old High German anafalz, Dutch aanbeeld, Danish ambolt "anvil") from *ana- "on" + *filtan "hit" (see felt (n.)). The ear bone so called from 1680s. Anvil Chorus is based on the "Gypsy Song" that opens Act II of Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Il Trovatore," first performed in Teatro Apollo, Rome, Jan. 19, 1853.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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anvil in Medicine

anvil an·vil (ān'vĭl)
See incus.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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