Crowbar (tool)

Crowbar (tool)
A crowbar.

A crowbar, a wrecking bar, pry bar, or prybar, or sometimes (in British usage) a prise bar or prisebar, and more informally a jimmy, jimmy bar,[citation needed] jemmy or gooseneck is a tool consisting of a metal bar with a single curved end and flattened points, often with a small fissure on one or both ends for removing nails. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia, "crowbar" may occasionally be used loosely for this tool, but is more commonly[citation needed] used to mean a larger straight tool (see spud bar). The term jemmy or jimmy (named for a fictional burglar) most often refers to the tool when used for burglary.

It is used as a lever either to force apart two objects or to remove nails. Crowbars are commonly used to open nailed wooden crates. Common uses for larger crowbars are: removing nails, prying apart boards, and generally breaking things. Crowbars can be used as any of the three lever classes but the curved end is usually used as a first-class lever, and the flat end as a second class lever.


Materials and construction

Normally made of medium-carbon steel they can alternatively be made from titanium, which has the advantages of being lighter and nonmagnetic.

The least expensive, most common crowbars are forged from hexagonal, or sometimes cylindrical stock. More expensive designs may be forged with an I-shaped cross-section shaft.


The accepted etymology[1][2] identifies the first component of the word crowbar with the bird-name "crow", perhaps due to the crowbar’s resemblance to the feet or beak of a crow. The first attestation of the word is circa 1400. They also were called simply crows, or iron crows; William Shakespeare used the term iron crow in many places[3], including his play Romeo and Juliet, Act 5, Scene 2:

Get me an iron crow and bring it straight
Unto my cell.

In the 1719 novel by Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, the protagonist uses crowbars as pickaxes but refers to these tools as iron crows:

As for the pickaxe, I made use of the iron crows, which were proper enough, though heavy;

Popular culture

  • The crowbar occurs as a basic weapon in many computer games, most notably wielded by the main character of the Half-Life franchise, Gordon Freeman. It is also used as a means of opening hidden crates, as seen in the Deus Ex.
  • The Marvel Comics supervillain, The Wrecker used this tool as his primary weapon, especially after it was accidentally enchanted by Asgardian magic to give him power enough to challenge Thor.
  • In the Batman comic book story arc A Death in the Family (as well as the animated movie, Batman: Under the Red Hood), the Joker beats Robin to death with a crowbar.


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