Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bonecrusher n.

[its effects]

1. (sporting, also bone-breaker) a large-calibre sporting rifle, used on large game.

[UK]Belfast Commercial Chron. 6 May 4/1: Mr Augustus sent immediately to the bungalow for his rifle [...] it was a piece of the kind called in India a ‘bone-breaker’ [...] Having loaded it, he took deliberate aim at the alligator.
H.M. Stanley How I found Livingstone 63: African game require ‘bone-crushers’; for any ordinary carbine possesses sufficient penetrative qualities, yet has not the disabling qualities which a gun must possess, to be useful in the hands of an African explorer.

2. (US, also bone-bender, bone-cracker) a wrestler; a powerful fist.

[Scot]Dundee Eve. Teleg. 26 May 4/2: The Dandy and the ‘Bone Crusher’ [...] ‘Take care, Captain [...] it’s the Birmingham Bone-Crusher!’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Sept. 40/3: ‘I tell you this chap is a real bone-crusher. In a try-out last week he threw two big blokes up in the air, and they ain’t hardly come down yet’.
[US]Weseen Dict. Amer. Sl. 248: Bone bender [...] bone crusher, a wrestler.
[UK]Lancs. Eve. Post 22 May 1/1: Wrestling friday May 24th Tiger baxter v. Bone-Crusher Delaney.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US]T. Whitmore Memphis-Nam-Sweden 170: Mike always wanted to arm wrestle [...] He had the biggest, most ‘bodacious’ hands I’d ever seen. Real bone-crackers.

3. (US) a person who shakes hands forcefully; thus a powerful handshake.

[UK]D. Hamilton Death of a Citizen 12: I knew he was going to be a bone-crusher, and he was.
[US]P. Hamill Flesh and Blood (1978) 172: Watch when you’re shaking hands [...] Some of these guys, they give you the bone-crusher.
[US](con. 1962) J. Ellroy Enchanters 422: We exchanged bone-crushers. He winced first.

4. (US prison) a large knife.

[US]Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July 🌐 Bone Crusher: A particularly large prison weapon (shank).
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 37: I’m on the way to dig up my bonecrusher [...] A homemade sword. Eighteen inches of rebar filed down to a needle point. Club ’em or stab ’em, an excellent weapon.

5. in drug contexts.

(a) painful withdrawal symptoms.

[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 49: I’ve held off the bonecrushers two days, rationing that stuff.

(b) a near-overdose in which the user feels as if the injection they have just taken is crushing their bones; thus bone-crushing adj.

[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 16: The more you use [heroin], the better it is. That doesn’t mean you won’t build up a bone-crushing tolerance.
H.A. Baer Medical Anthropology 217: Additionally, used needles clog up, which slows the relief that drugs offer [...] a potential for ‘an unpleasant experience called a “bone-crusher”.’.

(c) crack cocaine.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 4: Bonecrusher — Crack Cocaine.

6. (US und.) a thug.

[US]B. McCarthy Vice Cop 229: Mendino fell into that category of psychos who were outside of technique. [...] All they needed was an excuse to turn bonecrusher, to make a bowling ball out of somebody’s face.

7. a prison guard who uses physical force.

[UK]Indep. on Sun. Rev. 28 Jan. 12: Around ’Corcoran, he was known as ‘Bonecrusher’. ‘It’s a prison saying for the [guards] that use physical force [in removing fractious inmates from their cells]’, he says matter-of-factly.