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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for anvil

plover, farrier, smithy, anvil, shoer

Examples from the Web for anvil

Contemporary Examples of anvil

Historical Examples of anvil

  • He sat down on the anvil with his heart beating, and began to recall the picture.

  • My heart was pounding until in my own ears it sounded like an anvil chorus.

  • 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 for anvil

Old English anfealt; related to Old High German anafalz, Middle Dutch anvilte; see on, felt ²
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

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

anvil in Medicine




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