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A crowbar (Version shown does not have the flat end referred to in the text.)
A crowbar.
This version has the flat end referred to in the text.

A crowbar, pry bar, or prybar, or sometimes (in British usage) a prise bar or prisebar 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 Kingdommarker, Irelandmarker and Australia, "crowbar" may occasionally be used loosely for this tool, but is more commonly used to mean a larger straight tool (see spud bar). The term "jemmy" or "jimmy" most often refers to the tool when used for burglary. Wrecking bar is the most common name for the bar with the curved end. Jimmy for the smaller version.

It is used as a lever to either force apart two objects or to remove nails. Crowbars are commonly used to open nailed wooden boxes. Another common use for larger crowbars is general demolition: for removing nails, prying apart boards, and generally smashing things. Crowbars can also be used as improvised weapons for attacking someone or something, or for defense purposes.

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 2nd class lever.

Materials and construction

Normally made of medium carbon steel, they can be made from titanium also, which has the advantage of being lighter, nonmagnetic, and spark-resistant.

The least expensive, most common crowbars are forged from hexagonal or sometimes cylindrical stock. More advanced, expensive designs often are forged with an I shaped cross sectional shaft similar to an I-beam.


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 crow in many places, including his play Romeo and Juliet, Act 5, scene ii:
Get me an iron crow and bring it straight.
Unto my cell. ...

One false etymology is that the term crowbar derives from Jim Crow and that they were used by blacks to perform menial tasks, giving it racist origins. Jim Crow policies began at least 400 years after the origin of the crowbar, so it is highly unlikely that it had anything to do with its name. This has been discredited by Snopes.

Video Game Culture

The crowbar has become something of a symbol in video game culture thanks to the success of the Half-Life series developed by Valve Corporation. The crowbar has come to symbolize the series protagonist, Gordon Freeman, as the first weapon he picks up is a crowbar; he is nearly always pictured with a crowbar in hand. A single image of a crowbar was used as a magazine advertisement when the release of Half-Life 2 was impending in 2004.The crowbar has so far been featured in every game in the Half-Life series except Half-Life: Opposing Force, where Corporal Adrian Shephard uses a pipe wrench, although multiplayer retained the crowbar. A crowbar is also used as a weapon in the Deus Ex series.


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