Word of the Day: rack

Word of the Day
June 27, 2016
rack (noun, verb)
/ræk/  sound icon
A rack of shoes
Most commonly, a rack is a fixture used for storage, usually attached to a wall and with many shelves, or a framework of bars or pegs where things are arranged or hung. Historically, a rack was a torture instrument. Nowadays, a rack is also a slang term used in the US to refer to a woman's breasts. As a verb, to rack means 'to torture or torment someone' or 'to strain both physically and mentally.'


Example sentences
Rachel keeps all her shoes on a rack in the hall.
We have a rack for spices in the kitchen, so we can easily find what we need.
Prisoners used to be stretched on the rack during interrogations.
Terry has a thing for women with a nice rack.
Julie knew the accident was her fault and she was racked with guilt.
The little boy was crying, his body racked by sobs.


Words often used with rack
rack your brains (or brain): try hard to think of something. Example: "I've been racking my brains trying to come up with a solution to this problem, but I just can't think of anything!"
off the rack (US): used to describe clothes that are ready-made, as opposed to custom-made. This is called off the peg in the UK. Example: "In the past, custom-made clothes were the norm among the upper class, but now many people just buy things off the rack."
Additional information
Rack is also a variant spelling of wrack, meaning 'collapse' or 'destruction.' Wrack, or rack, is especially used in the phrase "wrack and ruin," meaning 'the downfall of something or somebody.' Example: "This used to be a successful business, but after the new manager took over, it went to wrack and ruin."
Did you know?
A rack is also the triangular frame used to set up pool balls before starting a game, and to rack up means 'to put the balls in the rack.' Rack up also has a figurative sense and means 'to achieve or earn.' Example: "The baseball team racked up a string of victories at the beginning of the season."
First used in the late 13th century, rack comes from the Middle English word rakke or rekke, which came from the Middle Dutch word rac, rec, or recke, meaning 'frame with bars.' It is related to the Middle Low German word reck, and the German word Reck. The verb, which comes from the Old English word reccan, was first used in the 15th century, and meant 'to stretch out.'
Rack in other languages
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