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

  • intransitive v. To break or snap apart.
  • intransitive v. To make a sharp snapping sound.
  • intransitive v. To break without complete separation of parts; fissure: The mirror cracked.
  • intransitive v. To change sharply in pitch or timbre, as from hoarseness or emotion. Used of the voice.
  • intransitive v. To break down; fail: The defendant's composure finally began to crack.
  • intransitive v. To have a mental or physical breakdown: cracked under the pressure.
  • intransitive v. To move or go rapidly: was cracking along at 70 miles an hour.
  • intransitive v. Chemistry To break into simpler molecules by means of heat.
  • transitive v. To cause to make a sharp snapping sound.
  • transitive v. To cause to break without complete separation of parts: cracked the glass.
  • transitive v. To break with a sharp snapping sound. See Synonyms at break.
  • transitive v. To crush (corn or wheat, for example) into small pieces.
  • transitive v. To open to a slight extent: cracked the window to let in some air.
  • transitive v. To strike with a sudden sharp sound.
  • transitive v. Informal To break open or into: crack a safe.
  • transitive v. Informal To open up for use or consumption: crack a book; cracked a beer.
  • transitive v. Informal To break through (an obstacle) in order to win acceptance or acknowledgement: finally cracked the "men-only” rule at the club.
  • transitive v. To discover the solution to, especially after considerable effort: crack a code.
  • transitive v. To cause (the voice) to crack.
  • transitive v. Informal To tell (a joke), especially on impulse or in an effective manner.
  • transitive v. To cause to have a mental or physical breakdown.
  • transitive v. To impair or destroy: Their rude remarks cracked his equanimity.
  • transitive v. To reduce (petroleum) to simpler compounds by cracking.
  • n. A sharp snapping sound, such as the report of a firearm.
  • n. A partial split or break; a fissure.
  • n. A slight narrow space: The window was open a crack.
  • n. A sharp resounding blow.
  • n. A mental or physical impairment; a defect.
  • n. A breaking, harshly dissonant vocal tone or sound, as in hoarseness.
  • n. An attempt or try: gave him a crack at the job; took a crack at photography.
  • n. A witty or sarcastic remark. See Synonyms at joke.
  • n. A moment; an instant: at the crack of dawn.
  • n. Irish Fun; amusement.
  • n. Slang Crack cocaine.
  • adj. Excelling in skill or achievement; first-rate: a crack shot; a crack tennis player.
  • crack down To act more forcefully to regulate, repress, or restrain: The police cracked down on speeding.
  • crack up Informal To praise highly: He was simply not the genius he was cracked up to be.
  • crack up To damage or wreck (a vehicle or vessel): crack up a plane; crack up a boat.
  • crack up To wreck a vehicle in an accident: cracked up on the expressway.
  • crack up Informal To have a mental or physical breakdown: crack up from overwork.
  • crack up Informal To experience or cause to experience a great deal of amusement: really cracked up when I heard that joke.
  • idiom crack the whip To behave in a domineering manner; demand hard work and efficiency from those under one's control.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Highly trained and competent.
  • adj. Excellent, first-rate, superior, top-notch.
  • n. A thin and usually jagged space opened in a previously solid material.
  • n. A narrow opening.
  • n. A sharply humorous comment; a wisecrack.
  • n. A potent, relatively cheap, addictive variety of cocaine; often a rock, usually smoked through a crack-pipe.
  • n. The sharp sound made when solid material breaks.
  • n. Any sharp sound.
  • n. An opportunity to attempt something.
  • n. vagina.
  • n. The space between the buttocks.
  • n. Conviviality; fun; good conversation, chat, gossip, or humourous storytelling; good company.
  • n. Business/events
  • n. A program or procedure designed to circumvent restrictions or usage limits on software.
  • n. a meaningful chat.
  • n. Extremely silly, absurd or off-the-wall ideas or prose.
  • v. To form cracks.
  • v. To break apart under pressure.
  • v. To become debilitated by psychological pressure.
  • v. To yield under interrogation.
  • v. To make a cracking sound.
  • v. To change rapidly in register.
  • v. To alternate between high and low register in the process of eventually lowering.
  • v. To make a sharply humorous comment.
  • v. To make a crack or cracks in.
  • v. To break open or crush to small pieces by impact or stress.
  • v. To strike forcefully.
  • v. To open slightly.
  • v. To cause to yield under interrogation or other pressure. (Figurative)
  • v. To solve a difficult problem. (Figurative, from cracking a nut.)
  • v. To overcome a security system or a component.
  • v. To cause to make a sharp sound.
  • v. To tell (a joke).
  • v. To break down (a complex molecule), especially with the application of heat: to pyrolyse.
  • v. To circumvent software restrictions such as regional coding or time limits.
  • v. To open a canned beverage, or any packaged drink or food.
  • v. To brag, boast.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of superior excellence; having qualities to be boasted of.
  • n. A partial separation of parts, with or without a perceptible opening; a chink or fissure; a narrow breach; a crevice.
  • n. Rupture; flaw; breach, in a moral sense.
  • n. A sharp, sudden sound or report; the sound of anything suddenly burst or broken.
  • n. The tone of voice when changed at puberty.
  • n. Mental flaw; a touch of craziness; partial insanity.
  • n. A crazy or crack-brained person.
  • n. A boast; boasting.
  • n. Breach of chastity.
  • n. A boy, generally a pert, lively boy.
  • n. A brief time; an instant.
  • n. Free conversation; friendly chat.
  • n. a witty remark; a wisecrack.
  • n. a chance or opportunity to do something; an attempt.
  • n. a form of cocaine, highly purified and prepared as small pellets, especially suitable for smoking; -- also called rock. Used in this form it appears to be more addicting than cocaine powder.
  • intransitive v. To burst or open in chinks; to break, with or without quite separating into parts.
  • intransitive v. To be ruined or impaired; to fail.
  • intransitive v. To utter a loud or sharp, sudden sound.
  • intransitive v. To utter vain, pompous words; to brag; to boast; -- with of.
  • transitive v. To break or burst, with or without entire separation of the parts.
  • transitive v. To rend with grief or pain; to affect deeply with sorrow; hence, to disorder; to distract; to craze.
  • transitive v. To cause to sound suddenly and sharply; to snap.
  • transitive v. To utter smartly and sententiously.
  • transitive v. To cry up; to extol; -- followed by up.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To break with a sudden sharp sound; be or become shattered or shivered.
  • To burst; split; open in chinks or fissures; be or become fractured on the surface; become chapped or chopped.
  • To fail or be impaired; give way.
  • In racing slang, to give out; fail; fall behind: said of a horse.
  • To give forth a loud or sharp, abrupt sound; crackle as burning brushwood; snap: as, the whip cracks.
  • To call out loudly; shout; bawl.
  • To boast; brag; talk exultingly.
  • To chat; talk freely and familiarly.
  • To break; sever; sunder.
  • To break in pieces; smash; split.
  • To break with grief; affect deeply.
  • Specifically, to break or cause to burst into chinks; break partially, or on the surface; break without entire separation of the parts: as, to crack glass or ice.
  • To open and drink: as, to crack a bottle of wine.
  • To mar; impair; spoil; hence, when applied to the brain, to dement.
  • To make a snapping sound with; cause to make a sharp, sudden sound: as, to crack a whip.
  • To boast or brag in regard to; exult in or about.
  • To use in utterance; talk: as, to “crack Latin,”
  • Excellent; first-rate; having qualities to be proud of; in definite use, the best or most excellent: as, a crack shot; a crack regiment; the crack player of the band.
  • In golf, said of a player ‘who goes to pieces.’
  • To shoot with small arms; fire: as, to crack at birds.
  • To become harsh or unmanageable; more specifically, to break involuntarily into an upper register: said of a voice.
  • In cricket, to hit (a ball) hard with the bat: usually said of balls hit in front of the wicket.
  • In music, to render (a voice) harsh or unmanageable.
  • n. A chink or fissure; a narrow fracture; a crevice; a partial separation of the parts of a substance, with or without an opening or displacement: as, a crack in a board, in a wall, or in glass.
  • n. Hence A moral breach, flaw, or defect: as, there is a decided crack in his character or reputation.
  • n. A sharp or loud sound, more or less sudden, explosive, or startling; the sound of anything suddenly rent or broken: as, a crack of thunder; the crack of a whip.
  • n. A sharp, resounding blow: as, he gave him a crack on the head.
  • n. A gun: as, “crakys of war,”
  • n. A broken, changing, infirm, or otherwise altered tone of voice, as that of youth verging on manhood, or of old age.
  • n. Mental aberration; mania; crankiness: as, he has a crack.
  • n. A crazy person; a crank.
  • n. One who excels; one of superior merit; the best.
  • n. A lie; a fib.
  • n. A boast.
  • n. A boaster.
  • n. A prostitute.
  • n. A boy, generally a pert, lively boy.
  • n. An instant: as, I'll be with you in a crack.
  • n. Free, familiar conversation; a comfortable chat.
  • n. In a length of cloth, a short space without weft.
  • n. A burglary; a housebreaking; also, a cracksman; a burglar.

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

  • v. break partially but keep its integrity
  • n. the act of cracking something
  • n. a narrow opening
  • v. suffer a nervous breakdown
  • n. a usually brief attempt
  • v. gain unauthorized access computers with malicious intentions
  • v. make a very sharp explosive sound
  • v. make a sharp sound
  • n. a blemish resulting from a break without complete separation of the parts
  • v. break suddenly and abruptly, as under tension
  • v. reduce (petroleum) to a simpler compound by cracking
  • n. a long narrow opening
  • n. a purified and potent form of cocaine that is smoked rather than snorted; highly addictive
  • n. witty remark
  • adj. of the highest quality
  • n. a long narrow depression in a surface
  • v. become fractured; break or crack on the surface only
  • v. pass through (a barrier)
  • v. cause to become cracked
  • v. tell spontaneously
  • n. a sudden sharp noise
  • v. break into simpler molecules by means of heat
  • v. hit forcefully; deal a hard blow, making a cracking noise
  • n. a chance to do something


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

Middle English craken, from Old English cracian; see gerə-2 in Indo-European roots.

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’).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

1793 slang, of Unknown origin


  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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. News


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  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    October 18, 2007

  • Contronymic in the sense: excellent vs. flawed.

    January 27, 2007