1. A hand tool consisting of a handle with a head of metal or other heavy rigid material that is attached at a right angle, used for striking or pounding.
2. A tool or device similar in function or action to this striking tool, as:
a. The part of a gunlock that hits the primer or firing pin or explodes the percussion cap and causes the gun to fire.
b. Music One of the padded wooden pieces of a piano that strikes the strings.
c. A part of an apparatus that strikes a gong or bell, as in a clock.
3. Anatomy See malleus.
4. Sports A metal ball weighing 16 pounds (7.2 kilograms) and having a long wire or wooden handle by which it is thrown for distance in track-and-field competition.
5. A small mallet used by auctioneers.
v. ham·mered, ham·mer·ing, ham·mers
a. To hit, especially repeatedly, with a hammer; pound. See Synonyms at beat.
b. To strike forcefully and repeatedly: hooves hammering the ground.
c. To assault with military force: hammered the position with artillery shells.
a. To beat into a shape with a hammer or similar tool: hammered the metal into a goblet.
b. To accomplish or produce with difficulty or effort. Often used with out: hammer out an agreement.
3. To put together, fasten, or seal, particularly with nails, by hammering.
4. To force upon (someone) by constant repetition: hammered the information into the students' heads.
a. To cause harm, loss, or difficulty to (someone), especially repeatedly: investors hammered in the bear market.
b. To defeat soundly: got hammered in the playoffs.
c. To attack verbally: a politician hammered in the press
1. To deal repeated blows with or as if with a hammer; pummel: "Wind hammered at us violently in gusts" (Thor Heyerdahl).
2. To undergo beating in the manner of a hammer: My pulse hammered.
3. Informal To keep at something continuously. Often used with away: hammered away at the problem.
under the hammer
For sale at an auction.
[Middle English hamer, from Old English hamor; see ak- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.