On the Anvil: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
September 30, 2023

Often, when something is "on the anvil," it denotes that it is currently in a stage of active consideration or development. This idiom is commonly used to refer to projects, plans, or ideas that are in the making and have not yet been finalized.

In short:

"On the anvil" generally signifies something in the process of being created or discussed.

What Does “On the Anvil” Mean?

The idiom "on the anvil" carries a specific notion pertaining to the stage of creation or formulation of something. To unravel its layers of meaning, let's delve deeper into the various nuances this phrase holds:

  • Being actively considered or discussed
  • Undergoing a phase of development or planning
  • Awaiting final touches or close to completion

While it often denotes something that is actively under consideration or creation, it can also imply that the matter is on the verge of being finalized.

Where Does “On the Anvil” Come From?

The blacksmithing profession, which uses an anvil as a hard surface to hammer and shape metals, birthed the idiom. Let's mull it over by understanding the origin and the journey of this idiom through historical texts and usages.

Historical Usage

People have reportedly used the phrase since the 17th century, symbolizing the crafting and molding process to achieve a desired shape, akin to metals on an anvil.

“The secret treaty was now on the anvil; the principal artists were the King, the Queen, Sec. Windebank, and Sec. Cottington.”

- Letter from Sir John Finet, 1635.

This usage portrays a situation where a secret treaty was in the process of being developed.

10 Examples of "On the Anvil" in Sentences

To get a better grasp of the phrase, let's examine it in different contexts through the following sentences:

  • The project is on the anvil, progressing all the way to its final stages.
  • People long for the plans that are currently on the anvil to come to fruition soon.
  • I have no words for the intricate designs that are presently on the anvil.
  • You can hop in and contribute to the strategies that are on the anvil.
  • He has a new book on the anvil expected to come out of nowhere and surprise his readers.
  • The students were excited to know that a new workshop was on the anvil.
  • After years of waiting, the dream project was finally on the anvil.
  • The artist has a masterpiece on the anvil, expected to be revealed soon.
  • There is a surprise party on the anvil for the pearl anniversary of the couple.
  • They whispered that some major changes in the organization were on the anvil.

Examples of “On the Anvil” in Pop Culture

Though not overwhelmingly prevalent in pop culture, the idiom "on the anvil" has made some appearances.

Here are actual occurrences featuring it:

  • In a 2009 interview, the director mentioned that his next big project was on the anvil.
  • The biography of a famed musician, released in 2018, had a chapter titled "On the Anvil" narrating his years of struggle and growth.
  • An episode of a popular podcast series in 2020 discussed the economic policies that were on the anvil at that time.
  • A 2017 documentary about craftsmanship featured a segment where the host used the term to describe a sculpture that was on the anvil.
  • In an acclaimed 2015 drama series, a character referred to a developing relationship as being on the anvil.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say “On the Anvil"

Here are a few synonyms that can be used interchangeably with "on the anvil":

  • Under discussion
  • In the works
  • Under development
  • Being planned

10 Frequently Asked Questions About “On the Anvil”:

  • What is the origin of the term “on the anvil”?

The phrase “on the anvil” has its roots in the blacksmithing profession. An anvil is a hard iron block used by blacksmiths to work on metals, generally to give them a desired shape. So, when something is said to be “on the anvil”, it is being worked on or is in the process of development.

  • What does it mean when something is “on the anvil”?

When something is “on the anvil”, it means that it is currently under discussion, being developed, or actively considered. It could also imply that the thing in question is nearing completion.

  • Is it possible to use the phrase in various contexts?

Yes, the term can be used in various contexts, including but not limited to planning events, creating policies, developing products, or working on art projects. It signifies that the process is active and the outcome is eagerly awaited.

  • How popular is this phrase in contemporary language?

The term is moderately popular in contemporary language. While it might not be the most common phrase to denote something in progress, it is understood and used by a significant number of English speakers, portraying something in the development or discussion stage.

  • Can one replace "on the anvil" with modern synonyms in formal writings?

Yes, in formal writings, one might replace “on the anvil” with modern synonyms such as “under development”, “being discussed”, or “in the works” to convey that something is in the planning or development stage.

  • What is the literal meaning of the word “anvil”?

An “anvil” literally refers to a heavy steel or iron block with a flat top surface and concave sides, used in forging iron articles. It is a traditional tool where a blacksmith works metals into desired shapes.

  • Is the term globally recognized, or is it restricted to particular regions?

The term “on the anvil” is used globally, however, it might be more prevalent in certain English-speaking regions. People all over the world who are proficient in English tend to use this phrase to describe something that is in a developmental or planning stage.

  • Have any books or movies notably used the phrase?

While there might not be highly notable books or movies centered around the term, it has found a place in various pieces of literature and interviews, symbolizing things in the development phase. It often appears in narratives involving creation and development processes.

  • How to correctly use the phrase “on the anvil” in a sentence?

To correctly use “on the anvil” in a sentence, it should denote something in development or under discussion. For instance, “The new policy is still on the anvil and yet to be finalized” portrays a policy in the development stage.

  • Can one use the phrase "on the anvil" to describe both personal experiences and professional situations?

Yes, the term “on the anvil” can be used to describe both personal and professional situations. Whether you are referring to a personal project you are working on, a relationship that is evolving, or a professional venture that is under development, using this phrase can adequately convey that something is in a stage of active consideration.

Final Thoughts About “On the Anvil”

The idiom "on the anvil" holds a significant place in the English language because it depicts a process of creation or discussion.

  • Blacksmithing terminology gave rise to it, illustrating something shaping on an anvil.
  • Denotes a process under active development or consideration
  • Has found its place in various literary works and pop culture, albeit not extensively
  • Modern synonyms can replace it in formal writings.
  • Globally used, it signifies something under creation or discussion.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Copyright © 2024 - U.S. Dictionary
Privacy Policy