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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.
  5. (meteorology) A horizontal-topped mass of cloud, shaped like a blacksmith's anvil, that forms before a thunderstorm.


Derived terms[edit]



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

  1. (transitive, often figurative) To fashion on, or as if on, an anvil.
    • 1648, Abraham Cowley, The Foure Ages of England, or, The Iron Age with Other Select Poems[1], London, Postscript:
      I Have anvil’d out this Iron Age,
      Which I commit, not to your patronage,
      But skill and Art []
    • 1671, “A Third Embassy to the Emperor of China and East-Tartary”, in John Ogilby, transl., Atlas Chinensis[2], London, page 291:
      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, 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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