ram·​rod | \ˈram-ˌräd \

Definition of ramrod 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1 : a rod for ramming home the charge in a muzzle-loading firearm

2 : a cleaning rod for small arms

3 : boss, overseer



Definition of ramrod (Entry 2 of 4)

: marked by rigidity, severity, or stiffness


ramrodded; ramrodding; ramrods

Definition of ramrod (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to force with a ramrod ramrodded the charge into the muzzle often used figuratively He refused to be ramrodded into his decision.… a self-made millionaire and visionary entrepreneur who as the fair's chairman ramrodded the project through from conception to completion.— Joyce LevitonThey tried to ramrod the bill through the legislature.

2 : to direct, supervise, and control … the police sergeant chosen by Dick Snider to ramrod his fledgling Border Crime Task Force.— Joseph Wambaugh



Definition of ramrod (Entry 4 of 4)

: in a fully upright position : rigidly sat ramrod straight

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Synonyms & Antonyms for ramrod

Synonyms: Adjective

austere, authoritarian, flinty, hard, harsh, heavy-handed, rigid, rigorous, severe, stern, strict, tough

Antonyms: Adjective

clement, forbearing, gentle, indulgent, lax, lenient, tolerant

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Examples of ramrod in a Sentence


a ramrod camp director who's been known to send kids home for a minor infraction of the rules

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Some walk or point (the men), others are ramrod still (the women). Jason Farago, New York Times, "Giacometti: Beguiled by Thin Men and Women," 6 June 2018 Seeing Lisa standing ramrod straight with a loaded Glock in her hand was as startling to me as seeing her in front of an orchestra waving a baton. David Sedaris, The New Yorker, "Active Shooter," 17 Mar. 2018 Just about anything the IDF buys will be used in action sooner or later—probably sooner—a reality that Tzuker, a ramrod-straight former infantry officer, understood better than most. Matthew Campbell, Bloomberg.com, "Benjamin Netanyahu Could Be Heading for a Fifth Term. Or to Court," 14 June 2018 The greatest number milled about in the sun along the Long Walk, a 2.5-mile ramrod straight avenue leading directly to a gate at Windsor Castle. Caity Weaver, New York Times, "I Also Went to the Royal Wedding," 24 May 2018 There are an amazing number of huge white pines, all single trunks growing ramrod-straight. Peter Marteka, courant.com, "A Hike Among Giants Worthy Of A King's Mark," 5 May 2018 The Army guy is former McKinsey & Co. health-care consultant (rich and ramrod-straight) Paul Mango, of Pittsburgh. John Baer, Philly.com, "Here's your update on Republicans looking to take on Gov. Wolf," 5 Feb. 2018 Galli sat ramrod straight, unruffled, scrolling and replying. Alexandra Marshall, WSJ, "Behind the Scenes at Dolce & Gabbana’s Couture Club for Top Clients," 11 Oct. 2017 It is adorned with three generic Confederate soldiers holding ramrods, rifles and swords. Chico Harlan, Washington Post, "A 121-year-old Confederate monument was coming down. This Kentucky town put it back up.," 20 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

As the state-of-the-art hydraulics move her into position, her posture shifts from millennial slump to ramrod straight. TIME.com, "Game of Thrones: How They Make the World’s Most Popular Show," 30 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ramrod.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ramrod


1706, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1850, in the meaning defined above


1912, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1954, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for ramrod

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ramrod

The first known use of ramrod was in 1706

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More Definitions for ramrod



English Language Learners Definition of ramrod

: a metal bar that is used to push explosive material down into the barrel of some old-fashioned guns


ram·​rod | \ˈram-ˌräd \

Kids Definition of ramrod

: a rod for forcing the charge down the barrel in a firearm that is loaded through the muzzle

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