Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A hard crisp biscuit.
  • n. Crisp bits of fried pork fat; cracklings.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A hard, crisp biscuit
  • n. crackling (fried pork fat)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A hard brittle cake or biscuit.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small, brittle fancy biscuit shaped in a dish; a hard, brittle cake or biscuit.
  • n. plural Small bits of fat pork fried crisp.

Etymologies

Middle English crakenele, alteration of Old French craquelin, from Middle Dutch krākelinc, small cake, from krāken, to crack; see gerə-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
French craquelin (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • My favorite example of this sort of thing is in Harkavy's Yiddish-English-Hebrew dictionary, which for Yiddish beygl meaning "bagel" gives . . . "cracknel."

    languagehat.com: TITCHY.

  • Andreevich, munching a cracknel after emptying his glass.

    Master and Man

  • In the second act Louis, one of the princely lackeys, brings a large cracknel and huge paper-cornet of sweets for Cornelia, whom he courts and whose favor he hopes in this way to win.

    The Standard Operaglass Detailed Plots of One Hundred and Fifty-one Celebrated Operas

  • When he is gone, Dal Segno's sister Julia, lady's maid to the Princess, enters with birthday-presents for her niece Cornelia, and among the things which attract her attentions sees the cracknel, beside which she finds a note from her own faithless lover Louis.

    The Standard Operaglass Detailed Plots of One Hundred and Fifty-one Celebrated Operas

  • How often she baked cracknel, cakes, rolls, and sweet biscuit, and sent great plates full of them to those who could not have such things, for she said, 'May those who pass by and smell the fragrance of my cakes never desire them in vain.'

    Armenian Literature

  • On Sundays the mistress would give him a gingerbread or a cracknel, and amuse herself with his baby prattle.

    The French Immortals Series — Complete

  • "Yes, it's 'licious," agreed Joan, with her mouth full of cracknel biscuit.

    Two Little Travellers A Story for Girls

  • Little children prefer red sugar-plums to white, and always think it the best "content" which is drunk from a painted cup; but when the dispensation of content and sugar-plums has yielded to maturer age, the man takes his coffee and his cracknel without observing the pattern of the pottery.

    The International Monthly, Volume 3, No. 1, April, 1851

  • Dymov hurriedly drank a glass of tea, took a cracknel, and, smiling gently, went to the station.

    The Grasshopper

  • Maggie was drawn into the dark little hall that smelt of cracknel biscuits and lamp oil, there was the green baize door, and then suddenly the shrill cry of the parrot, and then, out of the dark, the fiery eyes of Thomas the cat.

    The Captives

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