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A crowbar with a curved chisel end to provide a fulcrum for leverage and a goose neck to pull nails Standard Crowbar Black.jpg
A crowbar with a curved chisel end to provide a fulcrum for leverage and a goose neck to pull nails

A crowbar, also called a wrecking bar, pry bar or prybar, pinch-bar, or occasionally a prise bar or prisebar, colloquially gooseneck, or pig bar, or in Britain and Australia a jemmy or jimmy (also called jemmy bar), [1] is a lever consisting of a metal bar with a single curved end and flattened points, used to force two objects apart or gain mechanical advantage in lifting; often the curved end has a notch for removing nails.


The design can be used as any of the three lever classes. The curved end is usually used as a first-class lever, and the flat end as a second-class lever.

Designs made from thick flat steel bar are often referred to as utility bars.

Materials and construction

A common hand tool, the crow bar is typically made of medium-carbon steel, possibly hardened on its ends.

Commonly crowbars are forged from long steel stock, either hexagonal or sometimes cylindrical. Alternative designs may be forged with a rounded I-shaped cross-section shaft. Versions using relatively wide flat steel bar are often referred to as "utility" or "flat bars".

Etymology and usage

The accepted etymology [2] [3] 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 use of the term is dated back to c.1400. [4] It was also called simply a crow, or iron crow; William Shakespeare used the latter, [5] as in Romeo and Juliet , Act 5, Scene 2: "Get me an iron crow and bring it straight unto my cell."

In Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe , the protagonist lacks a pickaxe so uses a crowbar instead: "As for the pickaxe, I made use of the iron crows, which were proper enough, though heavy."


Types of crowbar include: [6]

The Half-Life game series' main protagonist's, Gordon Freeman's, iconic melee weapon is a crowbar. The crowbar has become a symbol in the gaming community not only for Gordon Freeman, but the Half-Life game series itself. [7] [8]

See also

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  1. Oxford English Dictionary . Oxford University Press. 1989. pp. jimmy 1, n. 6. ISBN   978-0-19-861186-8.
  2. OED: crow-bar; crow, sense 5a
  3. AHD: crow Archived 2008-03-12 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Snopes: crowbar
  5. "No Fear Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet: Act 5 Scene 2".
  6. "What is a Pry Bar and What Are They Used For?".
  7. "Why You Can't Use A Crowbar In Half-Life: Alyx". Kotaku. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 2024-01-16.
  8. "Half-Life: Gordon Freeman's Crowbar Is Gaming's Greatest Melee Weapon". Comic Book Resources. 5 April 2020. Retrieved 2024-01-16.