There are 2 main definitions of hammer in English:

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hammer 1

Pronunciation: /ˈhamər/


Image of hammer
1A tool with a heavy metal head mounted at right angles at the end of a handle, used for jobs such as breaking things and driving in nails.
Example sentences
  • Grip pressure should be firm but not tight - about the way you would grip a hammer's handle while driving nails.
  • Most of the project requires basic wood-working tools - a circular saw, a saber saw, an electric drill, a hammer, and a nail set.
  • Before you hit your sales reps with a lot of questions or break out the hammer and nails to begin building displays, do an assessment of your shop.
1.1A machine with a metal block for giving a heavy blow to something.
Example sentences
  • A hydraulic hammer is basically a hydraulically powered reciprocating piston inside of a body.
  • Shaw points out that hydraulic hammers and pulverizer attachments have allowed them to pick up demolition work on bridges and commercial and industrial buildings.
  • Hydraulic hammers and breakers, attached to big excavators or scudding skid-steers, announce demolition.
1.2An auctioneer’s mallet for indicating by a sharp tap that an article is sold.
Example sentences
  • City fans will be given a chance to get hold of their own piece of football history when items from Maine Road go under the auctioneer's hammers.
  • A auctioneer lowers his hammer as a painting believed to be a work by Vincent Van Gogh is sold for US $550,000 in Tokyo yesterday.
  • Before I knew it my arm flew up, the auctioneer banged the hammer down and she was mine!
1.3A part of a mechanism that hits another part to make it work, such as one exploding the charge in a gun or one striking the strings of a piano.
Example sentences
  • On the other hand, Debussy seems at times to call for a delicacy beyond the capability of fingers or for a piano which has no hammers at all.
  • The SFS adds a mechanical hammer block to prevent the hammer from hitting the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled.
  • If struck a hard blow, the hammers are designed to shear rather than override the sears.
2A metal ball, typically weighing 16 pounds (7.3 kg), attached to a wire for throwing in an athletic contest.
Example sentences
  • And what about if the hockey was taking place on the same field that they were throwing the hammer and javelin.
  • For Skyrac AC Nicola Jackson threw the hammer 39.22m for sixth place.
  • Aidan Kelly scored top points when finishing in 1st place in the hammer with a throw of 36.24.
2.1 (the hammer) The sport of throwing a metal ball attached to a wire.
Example sentences
  • There is also a track surface to provide a run-up for the javelin meaning the only disciplines the facility cannot currently play host to is the hammer and pole vault.
  • We are very strong here in Sligo on the track, but quite weak in some field events such as pole vault, high jump and hammer.
  • In the under-17 events, James Nagle won gold in the hammer and shot putt contests.
3 another term for malleus.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • The drum vibrates with the sound and rattles three small bones: the hammer, anvil and stirrup.
  • 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.


[with object]
1Hit or beat (something) with a hammer or similar object: they are made by heating and hammering pieces of iron
More example sentences
  • ‘In old times they started making gold leaf by hammering gold between pieces of leather,’ Tsaneva explains.
  • Toe plates are then cut from sheet metal, and pieces of iron are hammered and twisted into shape to form soles and heels.
  • The best type of helm was hammered and raised out of a single piece of iron and was therefore stronger than a riveted one.
beat, forge, shape, form, mold, fashion, make
1.1 [no object] Strike or knock at or on something violently with one’s hand or with a hammer or other object: she hammered on his door
More example sentences
  • On a coffee table in their sitting room stood two cups of cold coffee and the remains of two cream cakes - all that was left of the snack they abandoned last night when a neighbour hammered on their door and told them they had to get out.
  • Stephen then hammered on the door of a house to get help and an elderly man let him in and comforted him for half-an-hour before he walked for five minutes up the road to his home.
  • Both Mr Noble and Mr Roper then hammered on the room doors along the corridor to rouse other guests before dashing upstairs to wake people on the top floor.
batter, pummel, beat, bang, pound;
strike, hit, knock on, thump on;
informal bash, wallop, clobber, whack, thwack
1.2 [no object] (hammer away) Work hard and persistently: for six months I have been hammering away at a plot
More example sentences
  • I continue to hammer away at the importance of public broadcasting, and the importance of saving our book publishing industry.
  • SGI continues to be happy hammering away on the high end graphics and scientific computing markets.
  • While the company continues to hammer away at the upscale appliance market in the United States, it has opened its once-proprietary control protocol to other companies.
work hard at, labor at, slog away at, plod away at, grind away at, slave away at, work like a dog on, put one's nose to the grindstone for;
persist with, persevere with, press on with
informal stick at, plug away at, work one's tail off on/for, soldier on with
1.3 [with object] Drive or secure (something) by striking with or as if with a hammer: he hammered the tack in he was hammering leather soles onto a pair of small boots
1.4 (hammer something in/into) Instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) forcefully or repeatedly: the “diversity is good” message is hammered into them
More example sentences
  • Indeed, the point was hammered in by a voice-overed narrator contributing fatuous observations like ‘The huge gulf between rich and poor highlights how lucky we are in New Zealand!’
  • The deal is simple, and he hammers it in more specifically: ‘Do not play with our security, and spontaneously you will secure yourself.’
  • If Democrats don't soon begin to strongly support serious movement to renewable energy sources - including hammering the idea in the corporate media - then Republicans may do just that.
drum into, instill in, inculcate into, knock into, drive into;
drive home to, impress upon;
ingrain into
2 informal Attack or criticize forcefully and relentlessly: he got hammered for an honest mistake
More example sentences
  • This is the first time I've ever had a case where in a shoplifting situation somebody has been hammered this relentlessly.
  • The author has been hammered by critics into a tiny ball of bloody gunk over the last few months.
  • They just attacked me, hammered me at the book signing.
2.1Utterly defeat in a game or contest: they hammered St. Louis 6-0
More example sentences
  • Although Skolars were hammered by a record score in the last game against Batley, Moorby is still taking the game seriously.
  • We got a glimpse of what may be possible when we hammered Doncaster in the opening game.
  • Swinging early and connecting often, the Giants hammered Curt Schilling and Brian Anderson in the first two games.



come (or go) under the hammer

Be sold at an auction.
Example sentences
  • A photograph of Edward VIII taken during his notorious meeting with Adolf Hitler failed to sell at auction yesterday when it went under the hammer as part of a collection of private papers which belonged to his aide.
  • Two previously unheard recordings by John Lennon were sold for €216,000 yesterday when they went under the hammer at an auction of pop memorabilia.
  • It came under the hammer at the auction and was sold for E50.

hammer and tongs

informal Energetically, enthusiastically, or with great vehemence: all the way to the bottom, Larry could hear them clanging away, hammer and tongs
More example sentences
  • It went into extra-time, you had two world-class teams going at it hammer and tongs.
  • We expected Clare to come at us hammer and tongs, but it wasn't until we began to create space for ourselves up front in the closing quarter that the tide turned in our favour.
  • Poor old Gordon has to sleep on the other side of the house, while Cherie's going at it hammer and tongs, screaming like a banshee.

hammer something home

see home.

Phrasal verbs

hammer something out

1Make something by shaping metal with a hammer.
Example sentences
  • At first brass or copper sheet was made by hammering it out by hand.
  • The blacksmith who hammered it out from a single piece of stock was skilled at his trade.
  • This might be what was so puzzling to Moshe about the Menorah being hammered out from one piece of gold.
2Laboriously work out the details of a plan or agreement: a deal was being hammered out with the Dutch museums
More example sentences
  • But the conditions are that the guerrillas call a ceasefire and cessation of hostilities - a non-starter as the rebels have always said a ceasefire could only be called after the details of a peace agreement had been hammered out.
  • Now, sources say that votes could come as early as next Wednesday in the House and Thursday in the Senate, when all the details are hammered out.
  • In the end, there was too much opposition from business and development interests, so the CIR was put on hold while the superstore plan was hammered out.
thrash out, work out, agree on, sort out, decide on, bring about, effect, produce, broker, negotiate, reach an agreement on
3Play a tune loudly or clumsily, especially on the piano.
Example sentences
  • "Walking the Dog" was followed by the final tune of the first set, "Snake Rag", hammered out at a 140 tempo.
  • We had worked on it at sound checks, but hadn't really started hammering it out that morning before he got there.



Example sentences
  • And for the hammerers and welders, riveters and panel beaters, shipwrights and stevedores slaving away daily, they can gaze at those portions of the docks turned into yuppie havens and dream of perhaps, one day, moving up and in.
  • When a so called top sporting team gets absolutely hammered there is always a danger the media will focus on the ‘hammered’ rather than the ‘hammerer’.
  • We didn't have the stamina of the horde of hammerers who hammered well into the early hours.


Pronunciation: /ˈhamərləs/
Example sentences
  • The shift from pins to hammerless equipment improved the sustainability of a finite resource - some cracks were becoming nothing more than a series of pin scars - and, consequently, improved the sustainability of the sport itself.
  • ‘We have taken the striker-fired hammerless slide and barrel portion prevalent in our European competitors and integrated them into the 1911 handset,’ said Brent Mounts of Alchemy Arms.
  • The double-barrel shotgun, preferably the hammerless kind that ‘on-safes’ itself each time the action is opened, has served the same function on the shotgun side for decades.


Old English hamor, hamer, of Germanic origin: related to Dutch hamer, German Hammer, and Old Norse hamarr 'rock'. The original sense was probably 'stone tool'.

  • Old English hamor has a Germanic origin, related to German Hammer, and Old Norse hamarr ‘rock, crag’. The original sense was probably ‘stone tool or weapon’. The expression hammer and tongs (early 18th century) meaning ‘with energy and speed’ comes from the blacksmith showering blows on the iron taken by the help of tongs from the fire.

Words that rhyme with hammer

Alabama, clamour (US clamor), crammer, gamma, glamour (US glamor), gnamma, grammar, jammer, lamber, mamma, rammer, shammer, slammer, stammer, yammer

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ham·mer

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There are 2 main definitions of hammer in English:

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Hammer 2

Pronunciation: /ˈhamə/

Entry from British & World English dictionary

(in full Hammer Film Productions)
1A British film company founded in 1948, known especially for its horror films.
1.1 [usually as modifier] A film produced by Hammer Film Productions: a Hammer horror movie

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: Ham¦mer

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