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An anvil
Micrometer: note the anvil on the left


From Middle English anfilt, anvelt, anfelt, from late Old English anfilt, anfilte, anfealt, from earlier onfilti (anvil), from Proto-West Germanic *anafalt (compare Middle Dutch anvilte, Low German Anfilts, Anefilt, Old High German anafalz), compound of *ana (on) + *falt (beaten) (compare German falzen (to groove, fold, welt), Swedish dialectal filta (to beat)), from Proto-Indo-European *pelh₂-t- (shaken, beaten) (compare Middle Irish lethar (leather), Latin pellō (to beat, strike), Ancient Greek πάλλω (pállō, to toss, brandish)), enlargement of Proto-Indo-European *pelh₂- (to stir, move). More at felon.


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈæn.vəl/, /ˈæn.vɪl/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈæn.vɪl/
    • (file)


anvil (plural anvils)

  1. A heavy iron block used in the blacksmithing trade as a surface upon which metal can be struck and shaped.
  2. (anatomy) The incus bone in the middle ear.
  3. A stone or other hard surface used by a bird for breaking the shells of snails.
  4. The non-moving surface of a micrometer against which the item to be measured is placed.


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anvil (third-person singular simple present anvils, present participle anvilling or anviling, simple past and past participle anvilled or anviled)

  1. To fashion on an anvil (often used figuratively).
    • 1648, Abraham Cowley, The Foure Ages of England, or, The Iron Age with Other Select Poems, London, Postscript,[1]
      I Have anvil’d out this Iron Age,
      Which I commit, not to your patronage,
      But skill and Art []
    • 1671, John Ogilby (translator), Atlas Chinensis, London, “A Third Embassy to the Emperor of China and East-Tartary,” p. 291,[2]
      The Family Tang caus’d an Iron Pillar to be erected there of three Rods high, and of a proportionable thickness, Anvil’d out of an intire Piece.
    • 1748, [Samuel Richardson], “Letter XCII”, in Clarissa. Or, The History of a Young Lady: [], volume VII, London: [] S[amuel] Richardson; [], OCLC 13631815, page 341:
      I never started a roguery, that did not come out of thy forge in a manner ready anvilled and hammered for execution []

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