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, 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 may also be used to mean a larger straighter tool (see spud bar). The term jemmy or jimmy 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. In mining, crowbars are used to break blasted rocks and to remove loose rock on roof sides and the working face, but not much in modern mining.
Materials and construction
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 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, including his play Romeo and Juliet, Act 5, Scene 2:
- Get me an iron crow and bring it straight
- Unto my cell.
- As for the pickaxe, I made use of the iron crows, which were proper enough, though heavy;
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