Why is it called a Crowbar?

I was helping my friend Tim with a project when he couldn’t find his crowbar. That got me wondering, why do we call it a “crow”bar? They are forged from long steel products, usually medium-carbon steel they are a tool used for removing nails or forcing two objects apart.

They are also called a wrecking bar, prybar, pinch-bar, prisebar, jemmy bar), gooseneck or pig foot. The curved end is used as a first class lever and the flat end is a second class lever. They usually have a notch, like a hammer claw, for pulling nails. The history, etymology, of the crowbar doesn’t clearly explain the name.

The first known mention is around 1386, in a poem, workmen “putting prises to” the corners of a container with “crows of iron.” . Shakespeare called it an “iron crow” in Romeo and Juliet. Daniel Defoe also calls it an iron crow in his 1719 Robinson Crusoe.

Its name is perhaps due to the crowbar’s resemblance to the feet or beak of a crow, the most adept bird known using its beak. That is best I could come up with.

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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