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[steem-roh-ler] /ˈstimˌroʊ lər/
a heavy steam-powered vehicle having a roller for crushing, compacting, or leveling materials used for a road or the like.
(not in technical use) any similar vehicle with a roller.
an overpowering force, especially one that crushes all opposition with ruthless disregard for individual rights.
verb (used with object)
to crush or flatten with a steamroller.
to overcome with superior force:
to steamroller the competition.
to bring about the adoption of by overwhelming pressure:
to steamroller the resolution through.
verb (used without object)
to proceed with implacable force.
suggestive of a steamroller; ruthlessly overpowering:
steamroller tactics.
Origin of steamroller
First recorded in 1865-70; steam + roller1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for steam-roller
Historical Examples
  • It takes a plaguey lot to move it, and then it moves as slowly as a steam-roller.

    The Master Mummer E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • Billys all right: even if he did tell me this afternoon that I took-off like a steam-roller!

    Quarter-Back Bates Ralph Henry Barbour
  • This little girl's father was an engineer in charge of a steam-roller.

    It Never Can Happen Again

    William De Morgan
  • He might have been run over by a steam-roller for all I know!

    A Vision of Venus Harry Pleon
  • All the usual derivatives appeared, to steam-roller, steam-rollered, and so on.

    The American Language Henry L. Mencken
  • That child is as lively as an eel and as noisy as a steam-roller.

  • Do you want me to lie down and let them put the steam-roller over me?

    The Real Man Francis Lynde
  • One of mine's a bit groggy, but I feel like shifting a steam-roller with the other.

    Billy Barcroft, R.N.A.S. Percy F. Westerman
  • Afterwards the soil was of fine gravel, and as hard as though it had been compressed by the weight of a steam-roller.

  • I would rather be run over by a steam-roller than tread on the least of your outlying feelings, dearest.

    The Daughter of the Storage William Dean Howells
British Dictionary definitions for steam-roller


  1. a steam-powered vehicle with heavy rollers at the front and rear used for compressing road surfaces during road-making
  2. another word for roadroller
  1. an overpowering force or a person with such force that overcomes all opposition
  2. (as modifier): steamroller tactics
(transitive) to crush (opposition, etc) by overpowering force
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for steam-roller

also steamroller, 1866, from steam (n.) + roller. As a verb, first recorded 1912. Related: Steam-rollered.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for steam-roller



To dominate and crush; achieve by sheer force; snowball: The governor tried to steamroller the bill through (1912+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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