Bring the hammer down

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7 comments on this post.
  1. Victor:

    Drop the hammer, or putting the hammer down, is trucker c.b. slang, meaning to drive off quickly, or drive at high speed for long periods. The term originates from the idea of pushing the throttle to the floor, and placing a heavy hammer on it to hold it down, which was done, years ago, before cruise control was added to trucks.

  2. C A Wethern:

    In regards to the phrase “drop the hammer on”, it was used in law enforcement parlance to mean shooting someone. It would be interchangeable with the current phrase “bust a cap”. One “busts” a “cap” (primer) by “dropping the hammer” on it. The hammer is that part of a firearm that drives the firing pin into the primer when the trigger is pulled, thereby causing the weapon to discharge. It was a common expression when I began my law enforcement career in the 1970’s (back when we carried revolvers that had hammers as opposed to the modern striker fired auto-loaders in vogue today). When I was interviewed prior to going “on the job”, one of the questions asked by the board was “Do you have any reservations about dropping the hammer on someone if necessary”.

  3. badger:

    This phrase was used in a “Dragnet” episode in the late 1960s. Sgt. Friday mentions something to the effect “In my 20 years of law enforcement, I’ve had to draw my weapon only 10 times, and I’ve only had to drop the hammer twice.”

  4. c biggs:

    the question referred to “bring the hammer down,” not “drop the hammer.” while these sayings have similar meanings, i believe the phrase “bring the hammer down” is thousands of years old. in gladitorial combat mortally wounded fighters were finished off by a figure dressed as charon, the ferryman of the dead. he would raise a great hammer similar to a sledge hammer, and bring it down on the defeated gladiator’s head.

  5. J. Brown:

    The phrase is much older than that. It was used as a threat to small communities with assertive women in them from clergy who threatened to bring the wrath of the Inquisition upon them. Men would come with authority from the church, using methods described in the Malleus Malleficarum (Witches Hammer) to determine who was a witch, how to get them to confess and what punishment they would receive. It was written in 1486 by two German monks, Heinrich Institoris Kramer and Jakob Sprenger, who in order to get it accepted by the church, forged the approbation of the entire faculty of the University of cologne.

  6. RealWines:

    C Biggs you are right on the money. The term does indeed refer to the hammer of biblical time. Whilst it does have usage in the gladiatorial scene it s in fact somewhat older. It comes from the indenture of those taken from their clans who were, “bound down,” and to, “fix the pin,” a hammer was used to flatten the metal ingot, join or rivet that sealed or fastened the bind. This was done by a severe blow from the hammer. Thus the finality of the juris prudence and hence the history of the phrase dwn the ages. Not withstanding the field of the gladiators was extreme finality indeed.

  7. Hammer of God | Esther's Petition:

    [...] In addition to the practical uses of the tool such as hammering nails, the word appears in many metaphorical phrases: to hammer out a point; hammer out an agreement; hammer the desk to call for order, such as with a judge’s gavel; hammer away, i.e. keep arguing the same point; hammer out disagreements; fall of the hammer, meaning the end of an event such as an auction, trial, or lawsuit; put the hammer down, meaning to press all the way down on the accelerator to go maximum speed; bring the hammer down, to fire a handgun. (See http://www.word-detective.com/2009/11/bring-the-hammer-down/) [...]

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