Definition for AN'VIL

AN'VIL, n. [Sax. anfilt; ├Žnfilt; D. aanbeeld; Old Eng. anvelt. The first syllable seems to be the preposition on, from the Belgic dialect aan. The last syllable is from the verb build; in Germ. bilden, to form or shape, and bild, an image or form, which in Dutch is beeld. To build is to shape, to form, and anvil, that is, on build, is that on which things are shaped. The Latin word incus, incudis, is formed by a like analogy from in and cudo, to hammer, or shape; and the same ideas are connected in the Celtic; W. eingion; Ir. inneon, anvil, and inneonam, to strike.]

An iron block with a smooth face, on which smiths hammer and shape their work. Figuratively, any thing on which blows are laid. To be on the anvil, is to be in a state of discussion, formation, or preparation; as, when a scheme or measure is forming, but not matured. This figure bears an analogy to that of discussion, a shaking or beating.

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