a heavy iron block with a smooth face, frequently of steel, on which metals, usually heated until soft, are hammered into desired shapes.
anything having a similar form or use.
the fixed jaw in certain measuring instruments.
Also called anvil cloud, anvil top. Meteorology, incus ( def 2 ).
a musical percussion instrument having steel bars that are struck with a wooden or metal beater.
Anatomy, incus ( def 1 ).

before 900; Middle English anvelt, anfelt, Old English anfilt(e), anfealt; cognate with Middle Dutch anvilte, Old High German anafalz. See on, felt2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
anvil (ˈænvɪl)
1.  a heavy iron or steel block on which metals are hammered during forging
2.  any part having a similar shape or function, such as the lower part of a telegraph key
3.  the fixed jaw of a measurement device against which the piece to be measured is held
4.  anatomy the nontechnical name for incus
[Old English anfealt; related to Old High German anafalz, Middle Dutch anvilte; see on, felt²]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. anfilte, a W.Gmc. compound (cf. M.Du. anvilt, O.H.G. anafalz, Dan. ambolt) from *ana- "on" + *filtan "hit" (see felt (n.)). Anvil Chorus is based on the "Gypsy Song" that opens Act II of Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Il Trovatore," first performed in Teatro Apollo, Rome, Jan. 19, 1853.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

anvil an·vil (ān'vĭl)
See incus.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Bible Dictionary

Anvil definition

the rendering of the Hebrew word , "beaten," found only in Isa. 41:7.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
The anvil is simply a hardwood surface that supports the piece as you hammer it.
She is an anvil that will send his campaign into the depths of political
  history, never to rise again.
Hot coals glowed in a dark interior, where a craftsman was bent over an anvil
  hammering silver.
Anvil is a synthetic compound that resembles a naturally occurring insecticide
  found in chrysanthemums.
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