Definition of anvil in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈanvil/


Image of anvil
1A heavy steel or iron block with a flat top, concave sides, and typically a pointed end, on which metal can be hammered and shaped.
Example sentences
  • Thousands of stone hammers, anvils, crucibles, metal objects, and pieces of ancient metallurgical debris were also recovered.
  • All you need is a plenishing hammer, the anvil, a few metal punches, files, tin-snips for cutting sheets of silver up to make rings and that's it.
  • Their first few tools consisted of an engine block which was used as an anvil and some self-made hammers.
1.1The horizontally extended upper part of a cumulonimbus cloud: [as modifier]: anvil clouds
More example sentences
  • The top of a cumulonimbus cloud is often capped by cirrus, which is why the anvil of a thundercloud is often brilliant white.
  • Composed mostly of ice, an anvil cloud gets its shape from the rising air in the thunderstorm that expands and spreads out as the air bumps up against the bottom of the stratosphere.
  • A thundercloud, with a distinctive upper anvil shape, results from air which is moist and unstable rising by convection.
1.2 Anatomy another term for incus.
Example sentences
  • Three small bones (the hammer, anvil, and stirrup bones) vibrate with the sound, passing the vibrations to the inner ear.
  • The findings are drawn from examination of the hammer, anvil and stirrup bones in the ears of Homo heidelbergensis fossils, also known as Boxgrove Man.
  • There they became the anvil and the hammer, minute bones that transmit sound from the eardrum to the stirrup bone and, ultimately, to the inner ear.


Old English anfilte, from the Germanic base of on + a verbal stem meaning 'beat'.

  • An anvil is something to strike on. In Old English the spelling was anfilte, from the Germanic base of on and a verb meaning ‘beat’.

Words that rhyme with anvil


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: an·vil

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.