between the hammer and the anvil

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Referring to the metal on a blacksmith's anvil, which is beaten with a hammer.

Prepositional phrase[edit]

between the hammer and the anvil

  1. (idiomatic) With the choice between two unpleasant or distasteful options; in a predicament or quandary.
    • 1848, Jean Henri Merle d'Aubigné, The Protector, a vindication (page 250)
      Yet for a time the nation was again placed between the democracy of the levellers and the despotism of the Stuarts, — between the hammer and the anvil.