Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To break without complete separation of parts.
  • intransitive verb To break or snap apart.
  • intransitive verb To make a sharp snapping sound.
  • intransitive verb To break down; fail.
  • intransitive verb To have a mental or physical breakdown.
  • intransitive verb To change sharply in pitch or timbre, as from hoarseness or emotion. Used of the voice.
  • intransitive verb To move or go rapidly.
  • intransitive verb Chemistry To break into simpler molecules, often by means of heat or a catalyst.
  • intransitive verb To cause to break without complete separation of parts: synonym: break.
  • intransitive verb To cause to break with a sharp snapping sound.
  • intransitive verb To crush (corn or wheat, for example) into small pieces.
  • intransitive verb To strike, especially with a sharp sound.
  • intransitive verb To cause to come into forceful contact with something, especially with a sharp sound.
  • intransitive verb To open to a slight extent.
  • intransitive verb To break open or into.
  • intransitive verb To open up for use or consumption.
  • intransitive verb To break through (an obstacle) in order to win acceptance or acknowledgment.
  • intransitive verb To discover the solution to, especially after considerable effort.
  • intransitive verb To cause (the voice) to crack.
  • intransitive verb Informal To tell (a joke), especially on impulse or in an effective manner.
  • intransitive verb To cause to have a mental or physical breakdown.
  • intransitive verb To impair or destroy.
  • intransitive verb To reduce (petroleum) to simpler compounds by cracking.
  • noun A partial split or break; a fissure.
  • noun A slight narrow space.
  • noun Informal The fissure between the buttocks.
  • noun A sharp snapping sound, such as the report of a firearm.
  • noun A sharp resounding blow.
  • noun A mental or physical impairment; a defect.
  • noun A breaking, harshly dissonant vocal tone or sound, as in hoarseness.
  • noun An attempt or try.
  • noun A witty or sarcastic remark. synonym: joke.
  • noun A moment; an instant.
  • noun Irish Fun had when socializing; social amusement.
  • noun Slang Crack cocaine.
  • adjective Excelling in skill or achievement; first-rate.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English craken, from Old English cracian; see gerə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

1793 slang, of Unknown origin

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English crakken, from Old English cracian, from Proto-Germanic *krakōnan (compare West Frisian kreakje, Dutch kraken, German krachen), from Proto-Indo-European *gerh₂- (“to cry hoarsely”) (compare Lithuanian gìrgžděti ‘to creak’, Armenian karkac ‘noise, uproar’, Sanskrit garjati ‘to roar, hum’).

Examples

  • Albret's nostrils expanded as he heard the _crack, crack, crack_ of the remorseless dog-whip whose sting drew him away from the vain pursuit.

    Conjuror's House A Romance of the Free Forest

  • Galen Albret's nostrils expanded as he heard the _crack, crack, crack_ of the remorseless dog-whip whose sting drew him away from the vain pursuit.

    The Call of the North

  • Now the darkness was cut by a bright flash of light right in front; there was the sharp crack of a rifle, and right and left _flash, crack, flash, crack_, ran along a line.

    Charge! A Story of Briton and Boer

  • "Hurrah!" came from the right, and the cheer was taken up from the left, while _crack, crack, crack_, rifles were being brought well into play.

    Charge! A Story of Briton and Boer

  • "Ready!" attacked in his turn, striking hard and as swiftly as he could, but _crack, crack, crack_, wherever he struck, there was the defensive sapling; and at last, with his arm and shoulder aching, the boy lowered his point and stood panting, with his brow moist with beads of perspiration.

    The Young Castellan A Tale of the English Civil War

  • What more the skipper would have spoken remained unsaid, for _crack, crack, crack_! sounding smothered amongst the trees, came the reports of the rifles and the replies made by Don Ramon's vedettes as they were driven in, and the skipper's eyes flashed as he placed a little whistle to his lips and blew shrilly, bringing his own men together at the run.

    Fitz the Filibuster

  • He slipped over the ragged mat which formed the eaves, and the next moment, _crack, crack, crack_, he was hanging feet downwards, and then fell heavily in a cloud of dust bump upon the trampled earth, in company with a snake about six feet long, which began to glide rapidly away.

    Trapped by Malays A Tale of Bayonet and Kris

  • These words drove all the heroic thoughts out of my brain, and I tried to look back to see how near our pursuers were; but I could not turn my head round, but only listen to the shouts, while _crack, crack, crack_ came the reports of rifles -- badly aimed by the mounted men, who fired from the saddle, holding their weapons pistol-wise -- the bullets from which went whizzing and buzzing past our ears.

    Charge! A Story of Briton and Boer

  • Then flash after flash cut the darkness, and _crack, crack, crack_ came the reports of the rifles, as the men fired in what they believed to be my direction; but I heard no whistling bullet, and the firing ceased as quickly as it had begun, for there was the risk of my pursuers inflicting injury upon their fellows who led, and whom I could hear thundering along behind me, while with voice and knee I urged Sandho on at his greatest speed.

    Charge! A Story of Briton and Boer

  • If they wanted to make the song more conservative they should have complained some other parts of the song instead. haha "crack crack crack* Sounds like some kind of subliminal message.

    WordPress.com News

Comments

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  • Contronymic in the sense: excellent vs. flawed.

    January 27, 2007

  • From the Gaelic craic (I think), for "fun."

    October 18, 2007

  • I think its usage as a noun, e.g. "how's the crack?", does indeed derive from craic. But adjectival use, such as "our crack forensic pathologist" seems likely to have a different etymology (e.g. from crackerjack, perhaps?).

    October 18, 2007

  • Well, yeah. I just meant in the sense of "fun."

    OED says the 16th definition of crack is the connotation in question here: "That which is the subject of boast or eulogy; that which is ‘cracked up’; a horse, player, ship, regiment, etc. of superior excellence..." The first usage in this sense is listed as being in 1637. Unfortunately it doesn't list an etymological source. Hmm.

    October 18, 2007

  • rocks crack apart

    filled with passions

    longing to have

    a glimpse of you

    - Rumi, ghazal number 2157 in 'Fountain of Fire', translated by Nader Khalili.

    October 26, 2008