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

First recorded in 1485–95; sledge2 + hammer Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sledgehammer

Contemporary Examples of sledgehammer

Historical Examples of sledgehammer

  • The word fell like a sledgehammer blow in the stillness of the room.

  • We are the anvil now; wait till our turn comes to be sledgehammer!


    Henry Peterson

  • Compressed air or steam works the drill and the sledgehammer.

    Diggers in the Earth

    Eva March Tappan

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

    The Silent Bullet

    Arthur B. Reeve

  • Plury splattered like a charlotte russe hit by a sledgehammer.


    Lawton Mackall

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, etca sledgehammer blow


(tr) to strike (something) with or as if with a sledgehammer

Word Origin for sledgehammer

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

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