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

  • noun A device for transmitting rotary motion, consisting of a handle or arm attached at right angles to a shaft.
  • noun A clever turn of speech; a verbal conceit.
  • noun A peculiar or eccentric idea or action.
  • noun A grouchy person.
  • noun An eccentric person, especially one who is unduly zealous.
  • noun Slang Methamphetamine.
  • intransitive verb To start or operate (an engine, for example) by or as if by turning a handle.
  • intransitive verb To move or operate (a window, for example) by or as if by turning a handle.
  • intransitive verb To make into the shape of a crank; bend.
  • intransitive verb To provide with a handle that is used in turning.
  • intransitive verb To turn a handle.
  • intransitive verb To wind in a zigzagging course.
  • adjective Of, being, or produced by an eccentric person.
  • adjective Liable to capsize; unstable.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Crooked; bent; distorted: as, a crank hand; crank-handed.
  • Hard; difficult: as, a crank word.
  • To run in a winding course; bend; wind; turn.
  • To mark crosswise on (bread and butter), to please a child.
  • noun A bend; a turn; a twist; a winding; an involution.
  • noun A twist or turn of speech; a conceit which consists in a grotesque or fantastic change of the form or meaning of a word.
  • noun An absurd or unreasonable action caused by a twist of judgment; a caprice; a whim; a crotchet; a vagary.
  • noun plural Pains; aches.
  • To make of the shape of a crank; bend into a crank shape.
  • To provide with a crank; attach a crank to.
  • To shackle; hamshackle (a horse).
  • Sick; ill; infirm; weak.
  • noun A sick person: first used with the epithet counterfeit, designating a person who feigned sickness or frenzy in order to wring money from the compassion or fears of the beholder. See etymology and quotations.
  • noun A person whose mind is ill-balanced or awry; one who lacks mental poise; one who is subject to crotchets, whims, caprices, or absurd or impracticable notions; especially, a person of this sort who takes up some one impracticable notion or project and urges it in season and out of season; a monomaniac.
  • noun A bent or vertical arm attached to or projecting at an angle from an axis at one end, and with provision for the application of power at the other, used for communicating circular motion, as in a grindstone, or for changing circular into reciprocating motion, as in a saw-mill, or reciprocating into circular motion, as in a steam-engine.
  • noun An iron brace for various purposes, such as the braces which support the lanterns on the poop-quarters of vessels.
  • noun An iron attached to the feet in curling, to prevent slipping.
  • noun An instrument of prison discipline, consisting of a small wheel, like the paddle-wheel of a steam-vessel, which, when the prisoner turns a handle outside, revolves in a box partially filled with gravel. The labor of turning it is more or less severe, according to the quantity of gravel.
  • Brisk: lively; jolly; sprightly; giddy; hence, aggressively positive or assured; self-assertive.
  • Nautical, liable to lurch or to be capsized, as a ship when she is too narrow or has not sufficient ballast to carry full sail: opposed to stiff. Also crank-sided.
  • Hence In a shaky or crazy condition; loose; disjointed.
  • noun A crank vessel; a vessel overmasted or badly ballasted.
  • To creak.
  • Briskly; cheerfully; in a lively or sprightly manner.
  • To turn with a crank; turn (an engine) with a hand-crank.
  • noun A creaking, as of an ungreased wheel.
  • noun Figuratively, something inharmonious.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To run with a winding course; to double; to crook; to wind and turn.
  • adjective Prov. Eng. Sick; infirm.
  • adjective (Naut.) Liable to careen or be overset, as a ship when she is too narrow, or has not sufficient ballast, or is loaded too high, to carry full sail.
  • adjective Full of spirit; brisk; lively; sprightly; overconfident; opinionated.


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

[Middle English, from Old English cranc- (as in crancstæf, weaving implement).]

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

[Origin unknown.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English cranc


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  • By the definitions, one might also call an "ill-tempered, infirm eccentric" a crank crank crank.

    January 6, 2012

  • what's meaning of "crank it in" in the sentence as following

    "when you receive bad news about your son, you really crank it in"

    April 24, 2012

  • 'A person full of crotchets'

    December 12, 2018