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An anvil


From Middle English anfilt, anvelt, anfelt, from late Old English anfilt, anfilte, anfealt, from earlier onfilti (anvil), from Proto-Germanic *anafeltaz (compare Middle Dutch anvilte, Low German Anfilts, Anefilt, Old High German anafalz), compound of *ana (on) + *feltaz (beaten) (compare German falzen (to groove, fold, welt), Swedish dialect filta (to beat)), from Proto-Indo-European *pelh₂-t- (shaken, beaten) (compare Old 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.



anvil (plural anvils)

  1. A heavy iron block used in the blacksmithing trade as a surface upon which metal can be struck and shaped.
    • 1594, Christopher Marlowe, Edward II, Act I, Scene 4,[1]
      My heart is as an anvil unto sorrow,
      Which beats upon it like the Cyclops’ hammers []
    • c. 1596, William Shakespeare, King John, Act IV, Scene 2,[2]
      I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
      The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool,
      With open mouth swallowing a tailor’s news []
    • 1794, William Blake, “The Tyger,” lines 15-16,
      What the anvil? what dread grasp / Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
    • 1840, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Village Blacksmith” in Ballads and Other Poems, Cambridge, Mass.: John Owens, 2nd edition, 1842, p. 102,[3]
      Thus at the flaming forge of life
      Our fortunes must be wrought;
      Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
      Each burning deed and thought!
    • 1876, Gerard Manley Hopkins, The Wreck of the Deutschland in Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins now first published, edited by Robert Bridges, London: Humphrey Milford, 1918, stanza 10, p. 14,[4]
      With an anvil-ding
      And with fire in him forge thy will
      Or rather, rather then, stealing as Spring
      Through him, melt him but master him still:
  2. (anatomy) An incus bone in the middle ear.
  3. A stone or other hard surface used by a bird for breaking the shells of snails.



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

  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,[5]
      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,[6]
      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, Clarissa, London, Volume 7, Letter 92, p. 341,[7]
      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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