Definition of sledgehammer in US English:



  • 1A large, heavy hammer used for such jobs as breaking rocks and driving in fence posts.

    • ‘Graham scattered towards the barrel as Toby discarded his sledgehammer for the crowbar.’
    • ‘Expected to end quickly, the heavyweight clash had the crowd on the edge of their feet as the two giants hammered each other with vicious sledgehammers for 10 rounds.’
    • ‘To get to the watches, the thieves had to break half-inch thick glass with a sledgehammer or other heavy implement.’
    • ‘Ahead of him, a group of perhaps forty slaves smashed rocks with sledgehammers.’
    • ‘Graham attempted to jump Toby, but he was prepared and rammed the mallet of the sledgehammer into Graham's stomach.’
    • ‘In the other picture, five black men in undershirts and overalls are driving a massive iron support into the ground with heavy sledgehammers.’
    • ‘Plus a guy gets his shoulder broken with a sledgehammer.’
    • ‘But as an athlete, you can get in some habits, and sometimes it takes a sledgehammer to break them.’
    • ‘Mijangos used a sledgehammer to break down the door.’
    • ‘The movie pounds out the characters with a sledgehammer and a mallet, and that has to pass for development.’
    • ‘We succeeded in moving some rocks, breaking up several large ones with sledgehammers before we broke the handles on Dave and Stan's largest hammers.’
    • ‘Frank Gabriel stands about twenty feet away, holding a large hammer - a sledgehammer, in fact.’
    • ‘Throughout his career, he wrote with clarity and an attention to detail, all the while showing the written word could be more effective as a pen knife than a sledgehammer.’
    • ‘Selby firefighter Paul Bennett said they used a sledgehammer to break down the garage door and reach the fire, which had broken out in a utility room.’
    • ‘The thieves, says the proprietor, must have used a sledgehammer to break the toughened glass to gain access.’
    • ‘The analogy that I like to use is that it is like taking a sledgehammer to a large boulder and breaking it up so the pebbles can be washed away.’
    • ‘The shuttle began rocking, like someone was pounding at it with a sledgehammer.’
    • ‘Sheriff's officials have testified they used a sledgehammer to break into Mr Miller's office in Beverly Hills and seized videotapes and files related to the case.’
    • ‘Some got out of the van armed with spray-paint cans while others came out carrying metal bats, chainsaws, hatchets and sledgehammers.’
    • ‘The 47-year-old teacher and her five kids were snoozing when eight armed crooks used sledgehammers to break through her wall, unnecessarily because she would have let them in the door.’
    1. 1.1as modifier Powerful; forceful.
      ‘sledgehammer blows’
      • ‘Critics raved about the power and sledgehammer punch of the book.’
      • ‘It is beyond sad, or depressing - it is a vicious slap across the mouth, a painful screaming, a well-placed sledgehammer blow to the abdomen.’
      • ‘Of the ten times Frazier's been down, eight are by the sledgehammer fist of Big George.’
      • ‘These works leave few expressive facets of the instrument unexplored, and they require a technique that can reproduce everything from a baby's caress to passages of sledgehammer ferocity.’
      • ‘Jobs have been lost all over the US - but Ohio has been hit by a series of sledgehammer blows.’
      • ‘Though the famous corkscrew left crashed to its mark on Darcy's chin with all its old-time power, the psychological effect of its impotency was almost as unnerving as were Darcy's own sledgehammer blows.’
      • ‘How far all these people will go to achieve their goals is questioned over and over, making for an internal sense of suspense that enhances the propane attacks and sledgehammer fisticuffs.’
      • ‘We met in a blur of sledgehammer punches and bone crunching blocks.’
      • ‘A number of aspects can signify physical violence, but nothing matches the capability of this combination for sledgehammer brutality.’
      • ‘Live it would often bring the set to an orgasmic Rock ‘n’ Roll climax, which it does here on the album with all the guitars and drums in the band driving the rhythms into your head with sledgehammer force.’
      • ‘In both the Filipino and Malayan cases, police and small military unit operations were the rule, not large sledgehammer operations.’
      • ‘Of all the guys who have switched uniforms this season, maybe the hardest to get used to will be Lynch, who personified the Bucs' defense with his sledgehammer style.’
      • ‘The whole set-up, the diabetes, and the sledgehammer violence were all played in a way that's atypical of what I expect in a mainstream film, feeling much more like a fringe flick in the greasy intensity of it all.’
      • ‘Steel whined, then glanced from the shoulder of his scale mail with a sledgehammer impact, but his enemy had forgotten how tall his opponent was.’
      • ‘And the sign-off at the end of his first letter is a laugh-line with a sledgehammer punch.’
      • ‘I assume he is doing this by using sledgehammer riffs and singing which is just sub par for Neaderthal communication.’
      • ‘Was that feeling not worth this disabling sledgehammer blow of sorrow?’
      • ‘Leonard would fight on his toes and thus avoiding Hagler sledgehammer shots.’
      • ‘The band is amped, and even the ballads quake with fat bass lines, piano chords issued with sledgehammer bravado and the vocals hustled to the front of the mix.’
      • ‘Marciano was a raw talent with sledgehammer punches.’
    2. 1.2as modifier Ruthless, insensitive, or using unnecessary force.
      ‘under his sledgehammer direction, anything of subtlety is swamped’
      • ‘Never go for the subtle quip when the goofy sledgehammer punchline will do.’
      • ‘Somewhere along the way, I learned that the sledgehammer approach wasn't going to work.’
      • ‘The minimal, magisterial formal aesthetic of the latter though is clearly of another realm to Requiem's crude, lazy, sledgehammer style, and is infinitely more riveting and rewarding.’
      • ‘Excuse the sledgehammer entry here but I have just listened to the recording of Oppenheimer describing the effect of the first atomic bomb test on those that witnessed it.’
      • ‘They do it with theoretical lucidity and no sledgehammer politics.’
      • ‘No one tunes a piano with a hammer, but I sometimes see racers take a sledgehammer approach to tuning engines.’
      • ‘Barnes could easily have made this novel into a sledgehammer indictment of racism, but what he does is far more subtle.’
      • ‘The scenes are acted with sledgehammer humour, unworthy of Williamson's usually sleek style.’
      • ‘Yet Robbins's mix of pile-driver satire and sledgehammer sentiment crushes this enthusiasm by making one thing appallingly clear: just because you are on the side of the angels, it doesn't mean you are any good.’
      • ‘His argument isn't funny, though - it's a sledgehammer use of manipulative language to bluff Australians into believing they can't decide against war.’
      • ‘Our current citizenship laws are problematical but why go the sledgehammer route which will just whip up racism?’
      • ‘This has given him more freedom to come and go as he pleases, and not worry about where he's going and who he's seeing, without having the possibility of a sledgehammer response coming from the homeland.’
      • ‘Emerson, whose obsessive, sledgehammer approach makes his reporting often seem an afterthought to his conclusion, possesses neither.’
      • ‘Yet a whole lot of people arm themselves with sledgehammer tackle when they are gunning for modest-size fish.’
      • ‘Use a sledgehammer style of attack and you're definitely going to have a hard time with the ‘avoid enemy detection’ objective.’
      • ‘This is a sledgehammer approach to hitting a pesky mosquito - don't get me wrong, the mosquito is carrying malaria, but this is not the way to fight it.’
      • ‘This hideous pork product does nothing but evoke traumatic memories of the film's headache-inducing brand of sledgehammer slapstick.’
      • ‘They had a minimum of significant characters (often zero) and one big sledgehammer theme.’
      • ‘Symbolism is present but it doesn't suffer from the sledgehammer subtlety disease with which Hollywood is stricken, rather it serves more as icing on the cake.’
      • ‘I believe that this type of sledgehammer approach to address populist fears about terrorism is totally disgusting and bordering on totalitarian.’


[with object]
  • Hit with a sledgehammer.

    • ‘Singing volunteers, and construction workers who said they receive about US $1 a day, now sledgehammer rocks and repair roofs at various monasteries and other old buildings.’
    • ‘This mood continued in the gallery's back room, where one found the aftermath of a performance during which Parrino sledgehammered 13 pieces of Sheetrock that had been painted with black enamel.’
    • ‘Hence, I spent a good morning on Sunday sledgehammering the concrete fenceposts out of the front garden.’
    • ‘The stakes are sledgehammered into the ground about 10 to 12 inches and two 3-inch sheetrock screws are used to secure each stake.’
    • ‘They had sledgehammered the door and it caved in.’