Definitions

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

  • n. Exorbitant rent.
  • transitive v. To exact exorbitant rent for or from.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A rent of the full annual value of the tenement, or near it; an excessive or unreasonably high rent.
  • transitive v. To subject to rack-rent, as a farm or tenant.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To subject to the payment of rack-rent.
  • To impose rack-rents.
  • n. A rent raised to the highest possible limit; a rent greater than any tenant can reasonably be expected to pay: used especially of land-rents in Ireland.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an extortionate rent

Etymologies

From rack1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The monks, who had been easy and indulgent landlords, were succeeded by selfish despots who introduced rack-rent for the tenants and brought them to that pitiable state of serfdom in which the nineteenth century—to the eternal shame of Protestant England!

    The Social Order Before and After the Protestant Reformation

  • Many small farms were indeed still let to some cottagers at rack-rent, which cottages had the right of commonage, guaranteed to them in their leases; but afterwards the commons were enclosed, and no recompense was made to the tenants by the landlords.

    The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.III. From George III. to Victoria

  • Those who carry snuff-boxes are only his tenants; and hold them merely by virtue of a _rack-rent_, under him.

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, December 11, 1841

  • The result of such rack-rent can only be evil, -- abuse and neglect of the soil, deterioration in the character of the laborers, and a widespread sense of injustice.

    The Souls of Black Folk

  • Then he went, and his neighbors too, and now only the black tenant remains; but the shadow-hand of the master's grand-nephew or cousin or creditor stretches out of the gray distance to collect the rack-rent remorselessly, and so the land is uncared-for and poor.

    The Souls of Black Folk

  • Then he went, and his neighbors too, and now only the black tenant remains; but the shadow-hand of the master’s grand-nephew or cousin or creditor stretches out of the gray distance to collect the rack-rent remorselessly, and so the land is uncared-for and poor.

    VII. Of the Black Belt.

  • Formerly all tenants had some capital, and often considerable; but absentee landlordism, rising rack-rent, and falling cotton have stripped them well-nigh of all, and probably not over half of them to-day own their mules.

    VIII. Of the Quest of the Golden Fleece.

  • The result of such rack-rent can only be evil, —abuse and neglect of the soil, deterioration in the character of the laborers, and a widespread sense of injustice.

    VIII. Of the Quest of the Golden Fleece.

  • Formerly all tenants had some capital, and often considerable; but absentee landlordism, rising rack-rent, and failing cotton have stripped them well-nigh of all, and probably not over half of them to-day own their mules.

    The Souls of Black Folk

  • In recognition of his protecting influence, the priest was to take a third of the farm off the grocer's hands, and the two were then to conjointly rack-rent poor Murphy for the remaining third portion, which he would be allowed to retain for a third of the original rent; but the National

    Muslin

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