[ an-vil ]
See synonyms for anvil on
  1. a heavy iron block with a smooth face, frequently of steel, on which metals, usually heated until soft, are hammered into desired shapes.

  2. anything having a similar form or use.

  1. the fixed jaw in certain measuring instruments.

  2. Also called anvil cloud, anvil top .Meteorology. incus (def. 2).

  3. a musical percussion instrument having steel bars that are struck with a wooden or metal beater.

  4. 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. 2023

How to use anvil in a sentence

  • Violent cartoons where coyotes would drop anvils from red stone desert cliffs on innocent passing roadrunners.

    Didn't I Feed You Yesterday? | Laura Bennett | October 5, 2008 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • Also there were hammers and anvils and soldering irons and a charcoal furnace and many other tools such as a tinsmith works with.

    The Tin Woodman of Oz | L. Frank Baum
  • It is better to begin with a few anvils and tools and to add one or two at a time as the need is felt for a more varied supply.

    Copper Work | Augustus F. Rose
  • Tiny hammers pattered on miniature anvils in a tinkling, jingling chorus of musical clinks and taps.

    The Door Through Space | Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • Thus has poor mortality been beaten and shapen on the anvils of compulsion and exigency.

    Feminism and Sex-Extinction | Arabella Kenealy

British Dictionary definitions for anvil


/ (ˈænvɪl) /

  1. a heavy iron or steel block on which metals are hammered during forging

  2. any part having a similar shape or function, such as the lower part of a telegraph key

  1. the fixed jaw of a measurement device against which the piece to be measured is held

  2. anatomy the nontechnical name for incus

Origin of 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