Definition of hammer in US English:



  • 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.

    • ‘If all you have in your home is a broken screwdriver, a hammer without a handle, and one wrench you hope will happen to fit whatever bolt you encounter, you need some help.’
    • ‘To do this, he says, you need two basic tools: a hammer and a screwdriver.’
    • ‘I also need a hammer and nails, picture hooks and the step ladder.’
    • ‘They have nail guns, hammers, drills, the whole lot; everything they need to facilitate the destruction.’
    • ‘They would also have used tools such as planes, axes, adzes, draw knives, wedges, knives, chisels, hammers, mallets, awls, gouges, and spoon augers (a type of drill).’
    • ‘It wasn't until early last fall that I actually pulled it out of the plastic tub that houses my hammer, nails, and other unused tools.’
    • ‘I moved on to the engine room and took a good look around the engine and workshop area, which still held tools, spanners and hammers!’
    • ‘In addition to Mike's skill and knowledge on the golf course, he's pretty handy with a hammer and nails and has quite a selection of tools in the garage.’
    • ‘Then pull out the nails with a hammer or locking pliers.’
    • ‘Use a hammer and nail set to drive them below the surface.’
    • ‘Grip pressure should be firm but not tight - about the way you would grip a hammer's handle while driving nails.’
    • ‘He began the process of clipping various tools to his brother's belt - nail gun, replacement clips, throwing chisels, hammers, saw blades, sander, drill bits.’
    • ‘Most of the project requires basic wood-working tools - a circular saw, a saber saw, an electric drill, a hammer, and a nail set.’
    • ‘To drill through the tile you will need a hammer, a nail set, an electric drill and a masonry bit a little larger than the diameter of the screws you use.’
    • ‘That wood was probably going to go to some company and be used to make door stops or handles for axes or hammers or something like that.’
    • ‘Use a ball-peen hammer or a block of wood and a nail hammer to knock the tool head out of the ferule on the handle.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Use a hammer and nail set or an electric drill with countersink bit to join the frame pieces.’
    • ‘Much of the work is done manually using basic tools like hammers, shovels, axes and mammoties, a spade-like implement common throughout Sri Lanka.’
    • ‘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.’
    mallet, beetle, gavel
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    1. 1.1 A machine with a metal block for giving a heavy blow to something.
      • ‘A hydraulic hammer is basically a hydraulically powered reciprocating piston inside of a body.’
      • ‘Hydraulic hammers and breakers, attached to big excavators or scudding skid-steers, announce demolition.’
      • ‘Shaw points out that hydraulic hammers and pulverizer attachments have allowed them to pick up demolition work on bridges and commercial and industrial buildings.’
    2. 1.2 An auctioneer's mallet for indicating by a sharp tap that an article is sold.
      • ‘Before I knew it my arm flew up, the auctioneer banged the hammer down and she was mine!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Worrall's book is a warning to anyone lured by the auctioneer's hammer.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This slim fast-talking man is a whiz with an auction hammer.’
    3. 1.3 A 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.
      • ‘If struck a hard blow, the hammers are designed to shear rather than override the sears.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Frames and slides are made to his specifications by a vendor, as are screws and springs, but Brown machines sears, hammers, safeties and most of the other small parts.’
      • ‘The safety also blocks the hammer from contact with the firing pin.’
      • ‘The SFS adds a mechanical hammer block to prevent the hammer from hitting the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled.’
  • 2A metal ball, typically weighing 16 pounds (7.3 kg), attached to a wire for throwing in an athletic contest.

    • ‘He towered above others and could throw the hammer to a distance of around 190 feet.’
    • ‘For Skyrac AC Nicola Jackson threw the hammer 39.22m for sixth place.’
    • ‘And what about if the hockey was taking place on the same field that they were throwing the hammer and javelin.’
    • ‘Aidan Kelly scored top points when finishing in 1st place in the hammer with a throw of 36.24.’
    • ‘It is an Olympic sport, like rifle shooting, and throwing the hammer or the discus.’
    1. 2.1the hammer The sport of throwing a metal ball attached to a wire.
      • ‘In the under-17 events, James Nagle won gold in the hammer and shot putt contests.’
      • ‘Olympic hammer champion Szymon Ziolkowski of Poland set a new world championship record to win gold ahead of Asian record holder Koji Murofushi.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The City of Glasgow athlete has thrown 55.10m in the hammer this season - well over the qualification mark for the World Juniors.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 3

    another term for malleus
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


[with object]
  • 1Hit or beat (something) with a hammer or similar object.

    ‘they are made by heating and hammering pieces of iron’
    • ‘The men were hammering wooden boards with cartoon - like ferocity.’
    • ‘A haze of fragrant wood-smoke rose from his furnace; workers sawed and hammered metal, others worked meticulously on figurines which had been rough cast.’
    • ‘A golden spike was hammered into the ground to symbolize the momentous occasion.’
    • ‘Far off to his left, he could hear Em and the Marns boy hammering planks to the tree.’
    • ‘Toe plates are then cut from sheet metal, and pieces of iron are hammered and twisted into shape to form soles and heels.’
    • ‘I hammered it to death repeatedly with the book for several minutes.’
    • ‘That way when you are hammering the post spike you are hitting the wooden post piece, not the metal.’
    • ‘We heard the rhythmic pounding as the spear points were hammered onto shafts of ash wood.’
    • ‘He has three men at work on the deck, and with a chisel, they are hammering little bits of cotton waste into the tiny spaces between the beams that form the deck.’
    • ‘No one here is hammering a list of demands on a church door.’
    • ‘Of course that first thing that sprang to mind was lockjaw, but I've not been hammering any rusty nails recently, so it's unlikely.’
    • ‘‘In old times they started making gold leaf by hammering gold between pieces of leather,’ Tsaneva explains.’
    • ‘Jesus is flung on the rough timber and iron spikes are hammered through his hands and feet.’
    • ‘With the birds already in the construction I couldn't start hammering a new thing onto it, nor could they really be moved for fear of traumatising the newborn ducklings.’
    • ‘I'm serious: some guy in my neighbourhood has been hammering the same nail for about eight months now.’
    • ‘The best type of helm was hammered and raised out of a single piece of iron and was therefore stronger than a riveted one.’
    • ‘The surgeon then packs cement along the distal femur and hammers the femoral implant into place.’
    • ‘The melted Stones were beat and hammered into weapons called the Behemoths.’
    • ‘It's difficult to have a chilled and relaxed weekend when it's accompanied by the sound of Dominic hammering floorboards, Dominic hammering walls, Dominic hammering doors and window frames.’
    • ‘The kids, from knee-high to tall as any grown up, sanded the round bone discs, and hammered a design onto a metal plate that Yip riveted to the face of the disc.’
    • ‘As a boy he was taught to read by feeling upholstery studs hammered into pieces of wood in the shapes of letters and numbers.’
    • ‘Joe and Serena are talking about their new loves when Paul hammers the door down demanding to know why she graffitied his wall.’
    • ‘After that nails are hammered through the pre-punched holes as the pieces are attached to the wood.’
    beat, forge, shape, form, mould, fashion, make
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    1. 1.1no 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’
      • ‘I hammered on the door of my brother's room and later on the restroom door.’
      • ‘However Waterford were soon back on the attack and Fitzgerald went close once more as he hammered a right foot shot off the crossbar with Devlin beaten.’
      • ‘There are, as I write, three or four thousand aroused woodpeckers hammering away at my property.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Played in ideal conditions the Charlestown lads settled quickly and took the lead through David Caffrey who beat three players before hammering the ball to the net.’
      • ‘Both men hammered on the rooms along the corridor to rouse other guests.’
      • ‘He hammered on the shield again, tears of rage and frustration flowing freely down his cheeks.’
      • ‘Indeed, Kilbride might have rubbed salt in with big Jim Fitz hammering a shot off the crossbar in the closing moments before the nimble Nolan brought the scoring to an end with his fifth point from a free.’
      • ‘People hammered on train doors and screamed to get out, while crowds in the station ran in all directions, protecting their heads, to get away from the chaos.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, I broke the silence as I hammered on the door to attract attention.’
      • ‘He clapped Bligh's arm, and then turned and hammered on the door.’
      • ‘This is as far as we go because rock breakers are still hammering away here, slowly pulverising the rock to clear trenches for drains.’
      • ‘The equaliser came in the final minute when Lee Buggie latched onto a throughball and hammered a shot past the keeper.’
      • ‘Yappyfox, the red fox who so proudly hammered on his cymbal for the previous nine hours, takes the stage and begins a classic instrumental song.’
      • ‘He hammers away at the keys, periodically ripping the paper out of the machine, thrusting it into the hands of whichever cabinet minister has drawn the short straw, and gasping, ‘here, give them this.’’
      • ‘Harlan took the dagger and hammered it down onto the desk so loudly that it made even Camelot jump.’
      • ‘The girlfriend, Peggy, knocks on the door of the room where Lemmon is furiously hammering away on his typewriter.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I've been sawing and hammering away at that wood we rescued from behind the mall, and made a couple of lovely rough crates for my home-made goodies to go into.’
      batter, pummel, beat, bang, pound
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    2. 1.2hammer awayno object Work hard and persistently.
      ‘for six months I have been hammering away at a plot’
      • ‘And we'll take you live to the Scott Peterson murder trial where prosecutors are hammering away on his character.’
      • ‘Sean Barker, Andrew Fester and Bob Hardy kept hammering away at the home defence and Mark Allen capitalised with a try in the corner to cap a fine display.’
      • ‘Yeah, but you don't see the media hammering away at that issue.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘During this time period, the opposition party usually has a group of potential presidential candidates hammering away at the incumbent.’
      • ‘After hammering away through ruck after ruck, an Eric Miller surge caught the English offside and Humphreys kicked the precious points.’
      • ‘The flashpoint of debate and controversy is the status of women, and Makhmalbaf's films, along with those of his wife and daughter, continue to hammer away at this theme.’
      • ‘She hammers away at her themes, supposedly ironizing irony.’
      • ‘They amassed a further 47 points without reply and were still hammering away at what remained of the shreds of Italy's defence even as the clock ticked into injury time.’
      • ‘Rais has been hammering away at the judiciary issue.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We keep hammering away at these shortfalls in our system.’
      • ‘And they kept hammering away right up until the elections that ETA was a prime suspect.’
      • ‘Still, current events are relentlessly hammering away at the idea that ethnicity can and should be the foundation of nationality.’
      • ‘SGI continues to hammer away on the graphics and high performance computing markets that brought it fame.’
      • ‘While the above has been one stream of outpouring in the country's press, the other has been to hammer away at what many columnists saw as a confession-and-pardon charade.’
      • ‘Depends on the effectiveness of the Democrats at hammering away at that issue.’
      • ‘You're going to see the prosecution hammering away at the Modesto Police Department throughout this entire process.’
      work hard, labour, slog away, plod away, grind away, slave away, work like a trojan, work like a dog, keep one's nose to the grindstone
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    3. 1.3with 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’
      beat, forge, shape, form, mould, fashion, make
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    4. 1.4hammer something in/into Instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) forcefully or repeatedly.
      ‘the “diversity is good” message is hammered into them’
      • ‘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!’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The deal is simple, and he hammers it in more specifically: ‘Do not play with our security, and spontaneously you will secure yourself.’’
      drum, instil, inculcate, knock, drive, din
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  • 2informal Attack or criticize forcefully and relentlessly.

    ‘he got hammered for an honest mistake’
    • ‘He got five years for the fraud that never happened, and the system seemed eager to hammer him.’
    • ‘It would probably do the culture secretary the world of good to go, even if she is hammered for the new three-year deal for arts funding from the government, announced last month.’
    • ‘This is the first time I've ever had a case where in a shoplifting situation somebody has been hammered this relentlessly.’
    • ‘No doubt there were hundreds of agitprop dramas in the 1950s hammering Joe McCarthy's red-baiting campaign.’
    • ‘Health professionals are mobilising to condemn the government, propose major structural reforms, and hammer the ineffectual minister.’
    • ‘If the Government is increasingly hammering journalists here, there has to be a sea change in the way we respond.’
    • ‘They might have hammered him for exposing a unit to theft or damage.’
    • ‘It hammers the company for not detailing the assumed rates of return at other telecom companies.’
    • ‘It seemed harsh to hammer him for following what must have been an agreed policy and harsher still when he was forced to play on the retreat all afternoon.’
    • ‘He has been hammered in the newspapers and by the critics.’
    • ‘The inquiry counsel annoyed the press by attacking their coverage and got hammered himself as a result.’
    • ‘Some of the critics in the county who had hammered Corkery for more than a decade were lining up Masters as their next legitimate target.’
    • ‘He is getting hammered for allowing these words to be in the State of the Union address.’
    • ‘In his cross-examinations, he has hammered the witnesses with questions about rebel activity in their villages.’
    • ‘It looks like the Republicans are planning on hammering him on that one.’
    • ‘The author has been hammered by critics into a tiny ball of bloody gunk over the last few months.’
    • ‘The press in America have hammered him for not winning any of the last four, but I would like to have that problem.’
    • ‘Unfortunately we are hammered by the Government if we don't do anything - and by the public if we do.’
    • ‘They just attacked me, hammered me at the book signing.’
    • ‘Large goannas are the ones that are likely to be hammered pretty badly by cane toads.’
    criticize, censure, attack, condemn, castigate, chastise, lambaste, pillory, reprimand, rebuke, admonish, remonstrate with, take to task, haul over the coals, berate, reproach, reprove
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    1. 2.1 Utterly defeat in a game or contest.
      ‘they hammered St. Louis 6–0’
      • ‘In the Keybury League under-sevens Group D, Myrtle Park hammered Gomersal C 11-0.’
      • ‘Pakistan meanwhile hammers the Brits in their first county match at Worcester where Alimuddin scores a century.’
      • ‘Yorkshire gave Steve Kirby the new ball on his return from a back injury but Fraser Watts hammered him for four boundaries and he was withdrawn from the attack but returned later to claim the last two wickets to fall.’
      • ‘The Fife side hammered their opponents 4-1 at Central Park while the Hampden side slipped up again with a goalless draw against Brechin City at Glebe Park.’
      • ‘Britannia Farnworth produced a special show for the television when they hammered Prince Rupert 9-1 in the first round of the Division One Cup.’
      • ‘We got a glimpse of what may be possible when we hammered Doncaster in the opening game.’
      • ‘The idea that the Welsh should support England at football when they hammer us at rugby is unacceptable.’
      • ‘We've played against teams that have been worse than that and they've hammered us by more.’
      • ‘After a week off Town's A team got back to action with a bang hammering Harlow with ten goals and did their goal difference a power of good.’
      • ‘Swinging early and connecting often, the Giants hammered Curt Schilling and Brian Anderson in the first two games.’
      • ‘The lack of preparation caught up with him in the UK Championship last month, when he was hammered 9-2 by Stephen Lee in the quarter-finals.’
      • ‘Elsewhere, re-crowned champions Glasgow Hawks rounded off their campaign by hammering bottom dogs Stirling County 47-8’
      • ‘The weakened side were hammered 62-2 and they could face another beating this week unless some players choose to return.’
      • ‘Although Skolars were hammered by a record score in the last game against Batley, Moorby is still taking the game seriously.’
      • ‘The third team hammered Bradford University 5-1 at home with a hat-trick from M Bell and two goals from J Metcalfe.’
      • ‘‘Anybody looking at the final score would think we had been hammered, but that was definitely not the case,’ he said.’
      • ‘Last season he hammered Lancashire for three centuries in the championship and league clashes at Old Trafford - and finished up a double loser.’
      • ‘In previous years you might have a slip-up and get badly beaten by Kilkenny - well, everybody thought they were going to hammer us anyway.’
      • ‘Canada bowed out in the tournament's first round after getting hammered by Norway and Russia.’
      • ‘We beat them 21-6 and England hammered them 53-3, and it was a real low point for them.’
      trounce, defeat, beat, beat hollow, worst, best, overwhelm, rout, annihilate, bring someone to their knees
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  • come (or go) under the hammer

    • Be sold at an auction.

      • ‘The most expensive piece of furniture ever to be sold at auction is due to go under the hammer once more on December 9.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Around half a dozen bidders tried to snap up the Gooseholme public toilet on the banks of the River Kent when it went under the hammer at a property auction at Manchester Airport.’
      • ‘A total of 12 medals belonging to Maj-Gen Drake went under the hammer at London auction house, Spink's, with the set estimated to be worth £20,000 without the elite VC honour.’
      • ‘Yesterday it went under the hammer at prestigious auction house Bonhams in Knightsbridge, London, fetching £300.’
      • ‘Just days ago the Elliott family silver and a collection of prized John Gould bird prints went under the hammer at a Melbourne auction.’
      • ‘Mr Lang said Wednesday's auction was a very spirited event as the entire contents of the motel - 650 items - went under the hammer and were all sold.’
      • ‘It came under the hammer at the auction and was sold for E50.’
      • ‘The property of Glen Lodge at Culleenamore recently went under the hammer at an auction in Dublin.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
      • ‘Several commenters down below have gone at it hammer and tongs and have gotten periodically diverted into arguing that the nuclear attacks on civilian populations in Japan were just.’
      • ‘Give them a different way to go about discussing ideas and the issues that face the world, and they go at it hammer and tongs.’
      • ‘They have played with great tempo, and been so positive in going at their opponents hammer and tongs.’
      • ‘On Thursday, she went hammer and tongs at the Government when condemning the arrest of women employees in connection with the ongoing State-wide strike by service organisations.’
      • ‘They were eating steak pie suppers and arguing hammer and tongs when suddenly she got out.’
      • ‘How can you go at a ruling hammer and tongs when you have this sort of culture?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘On the pitch two gallant teams went at it hammer and tongs while off it, their passionate supporters kept up an incessant cacophony, which will not, I'll warrant, be equalled at the county final.’
      • ‘It went into extra-time, you had two world-class teams going at it hammer and tongs.’
      strenuously, with great vigour, strongly, powerfully, potently, forcefully, with force, forcibly, energetically, aggressively, heartily, eagerly, with eagerness, enthusiastically, with enthusiasm, with great effort, with all one's might, with might and main, with a will, for dear life, for all one is worth, to the best of one's abilities, as best one can, all out, with a vengeance, fiercely, intensely, hard, as hard as possible, as hard as one can, with all the stops out, like the devil, like the deuce, at full tilt
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Phrasal Verbs

  • hammer something out

    • 1Make something by shaping metal with a hammer.

      • ‘Ancient blacksmiths heated the iron ore and then hammered out iron spears and swords.’
      • ‘This might be what was so puzzling to Moshe about the Menorah being hammered out from one piece of gold.’
      • ‘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.’
    • 2Laboriously work out the details of a plan or agreement.

      ‘a deal was being hammered out with the Dutch museums’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Further details will be hammered out at working-level talks in the near future.’
      • ‘The ministers will ask the officials to leave the room and hammer it out among themselves.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In each case, it's not the solution they hammer out that matters; it's the process of hammering it out.’
      • ‘Each one thinking that the other is going to get some minor advantage by pulling some trick, and it just makes it hard to hammer this stuff out.’
      • ‘As a writer or producer, you find yourself trapped in the middle and at first, you want to tell them, ‘Hey… you guys hammer it out and let me know what the decision is.’’
      • ‘Scrap the Debate Commission and let the campaigns hammer it out between themselves each election.’
      • ‘We finally hammered it out by the end of the summer.’
      thrash out, work out, agree on, sort out, decide on, bring about, effect, produce, broker, negotiate, reach an agreement on, come to terms about, come to a decision on, come to a satisfactory conclusion on, form a resolution about
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    • 3Play a tune loudly or clumsily, especially on the piano.

      • ‘"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.’


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’.