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[slej-ham-er] /ˈslɛdʒˌhæm ər/
a large heavy hammer wielded with both hands.
verb (used with or without object)
to hammer, beat, or strike with or as if with a sledgehammer.
crudely or ruthlessly forceful; lacking all dexterity or grace:
the artist's sledgehammer approach.
Origin of sledgehammer
1485-95; sledge2 + hammer Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for sledgehammer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had scarcely taken another breath before Henley struck him again with the force of a sledgehammer squarely between the eyes.

    Dixie Hart Will N. Harben
  • Compressed air or steam works the drill and the sledgehammer.

    Diggers in the Earth Eva March Tappan
  • The high leather boots and the hand that still gripped the handle of the sledgehammer were the only remains of the man.

  • My heart was going like a sledgehammer as the critical moment approached.

    The Silent Bullet Arthur B. Reeve
  • I stood straight up against the wall, my heart still going like a sledgehammer, but with a ray of hope now shining in my bosom.

    Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson
British Dictionary definitions for sledgehammer


a large heavy hammer with a long handle used with both hands for heavy work such as forging iron, breaking rocks, etc
(modifier) resembling the action of a sledgehammer in power, ruthlessness, etc: a sledgehammer blow
(transitive) to strike (something) with or as if with a sledgehammer
Word Origin
C15 sledge, from Old English slecg a large hammer; related to Old Norse sleggja, Middle Dutch slegge
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 sledgehammer

late 15c., from sledge (n.1) + hammer (n.). As a verb, from 1834. Old English had slegebytel "hammer," from beetle (n.2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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