Ramrod straight and ramrod through

Ramrod straight and ramrod through are two idioms that share imagery, but mean different things. We will examine the meaning of the idioms ramrod straight and ramrod through, from where these expressions are derived, and some examples of their use in sentences.

Ramrod straight describes something that is physically rigid or someone who is overly prim and proper. The prim and proper meaning actually came into use first, around the turn of the twentieth century. The use of ramrod straight to mean something physically rigid came into use in the 1930s. A ramrod is a long, straight metal bar that is shoved down the muzzle of a gun in order to pack in the charge.

Ramrod through is an idiom that means to force the passage of a law, the acceptance of an idea, or the adoption of bylaws in a club or institution. The idea is of pushing something through that is not necessarily agreed upon by all members. When something is ramrodded through, no discussion or debate is allowed. There is a feeling of having something forced upon the group. Related words are ramrods through, ramrodded through, ramrodding through.

Examples

“It was a great thrill,‘ said the smiling Lockwood, who still stands ramrod-straight and looks like he must be around the same weight he was back in his Army days in the 1950s. (The Cadillac News)

You can roughly date a canal to pre- or post-1750s by whether it is narrow and meandering or ramrod straight and wide. (The Guardian)

I’m less interested in innovative policy initiatives no president can ramrod through a reluctant Congress than I am in gauging each candidate’s capacity to inspire a broad array of voters. (USA Today)

It has been pointed out that there were no consultations on such an important legislation, but the government chose to ramrod it through the House. (The Deccan Herald)