Definition of anvil in English:



  • 1A heavy iron block with a flat top and concave sides, on which metal can be hammered and shaped.

    • ‘Then Wollaston placed the metallic plug onto an anvil and began to hammer it - gently at first and then with increasing intensity.’
    • ‘They are both innately skilled, whether working metal with a hammer and anvil or wood with a carving tool.’
    • ‘After a few minutes, he lifted the piece of metal off the anvil with a pair of tongs and plunged it into a bucket of water near by.’
    • ‘The evidence from the 14th-century cathedral at Orvieto provides indications of the tools used in mosaic-making, ranging from hammers, anvils, and a variety of cutting tools to blowpipes, shears, and ladles on the glass-making side.’
    • ‘There the smiths beat the metal on anvils on top or in huge furnaces.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Rather, imagine the work of a blacksmith with his heavy hammer and anvil and a thick leather apron, smoke billowing from the forge.’
    • ‘Rocks are crushed between rotating hammers and steel anvils.’
    • ‘The blacksmith's skills are shown in the anvil and the hammer.’
    • ‘Thousands of stone hammers, anvils, crucibles, metal objects, and pieces of ancient metallurgical debris were also recovered.’
    • ‘Although the small shop houses a grinder-buffer, drill, bench sander and electric saw, most of the tools are primitive looking hammers, mallets and anvils.’
    • ‘In his youth he struck many a telling blow from the hammer on the anvil and now he is keeping an important part of our culture alive.’
    • ‘If a component was fairly large, he might have to modify his hearth to accommodate the work, and certainly needed to draft in help to control the hot metal on the anvil.’
    • ‘Skilled club-makers such as Willie Grant and Robin Faichney toiled nearby, and the sound of metal bashing against the anvils contributed to an incessant din resounding through Betty's ears.’
    • ‘The firm no longer shoes horses, but still practises all the other traditional methods - using an anvil, hammer and coke fire - that the first Dunbars used all those years ago.’
    • ‘Their first few tools consisted of an engine block which was used as an anvil and some self-made hammers.’
    • ‘As the Smith forged iron, with his hammer and anvil, so the development of the blast furnace required control over fire-processes.’
    • ‘In the simplest case, the metal is compressed between a hammer and an anvil and the final shape is obtained by turning and moving the work piece between blows.’
    • ‘Here, among heavy industrial machinery, anvils and workbenches, Gibb and his assistant, Fiona Liddell, make miracles happen.’
    • ‘The smith looked up from the sword he was pounding on an anvil with a huge hammer, and wiped his eyes.’
    mould, model, pattern, form, matrix
    View synonyms
  • 2The horizontally extended upper part of a cumulonimbus cloud.

    as modifier ‘anvil clouds’
    • ‘Amature meteorologists will recognize the cumulonimbus, a thunderstorm cloud characterized by the anvil shaped top.’
    • ‘A thundercloud, with a distinctive upper anvil shape, results from air which is moist and unstable rising by convection.’
    • ‘The researchers found when Saharan dust is in the air, the anvils produced by Florida's convective thunderstorms tend to be a little smaller in area, but better organized and thicker.’
    • ‘The top of a cumulonimbus cloud is often capped by cirrus, which is why the anvil of a thundercloud is often brilliant white.’
    • ‘The winds from above cause the head of the storm to tilt, and this creates the anvil at the top.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 3Anatomy

    another term for incus
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The sound makes the eardrum vibrate, which in turn causes a series of three tiny bones (the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup) in the middle ear to vibrate.’
    • ‘The middle ear is an air-filled cavity which consists of an eardrum and three tiny, interconnected bones - the hammer, anvil, and stirrup.’
    • ‘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.’


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