Word of the Day: crack

Word of the Day
August 18, 2016
crack (verb, noun, adjective)
/kræk/  sound icon
A cracked cell phone screen
To crack means 'to break without coming completely apart,' with the break usually marked by a line, and also 'to break open with a sharp sound.' It also means 'to make a sharp sound' or, when talking about a voice, 'to change suddenly.' Crack also means 'to solve a crime or puzzle.' As a noun, a crack is a break, a sharp noise, or a break in the voice. Informally, a crack is a funny remark, or an attempt at something. As an adjective, crack means 'skillful, expert,' especially in the UK.


Example sentences
I dropped my phone and the screen cracked.
Emily bought shelled walnuts and had to crack them before eating them.
Dave realized someone was behind him when he heard a twig crack.
Maria's voice cracked with emotion.
The detective has finally cracked the case.
There was a long crack running down the wall.
Peter wasn't sure if he could do the job, but he decided to take a crack at it.
The marksman was a crack shot.


Multi-word forms
crack up: to burst into sudden laughter. Example: "We all cracked up at Erika's joke." It can also mean 'to have a mental breakdown,' though this isn't a very polite way to say that. Example: "The stress of work got to be too much for Andrew and he cracked up."
crack down: take severe measures. Example: "The police are cracking down on crime in the city."
get cracking: get started on something. Example: "We've got a lot to do today, so let's get cracking!"
crack a smile: to smile. Example: "Don't look so miserable. Would it hurt you to crack a smile?"
crack of dawn: at first light or, figuratively, very, very early. Example: "I have loads of work to get through tomorrow, so I need to get up at the crack of dawn."
Did you know?
Crack, or crack cocaine, is also a drug, specifically pellet-sized pieces of very powerful cocaine for smoking. It is very addictive and harmful to users' health, but fortunately, its use has declined since the crack epidemic of the 90s in the US. Crack users are known colloquially as crackheads.
Other forms
crackable (adjective), cracker (noun), cracking (adjective)
Crack can be traced back to before the year 1000. It has its origins in the Old English verb cracian ('to resound, make a sharp sound'), which evolved into the Middle English crac(k)en. By the 14th century, its meaning had widened to include 'to speak, utter a sound.' The noun comes from the verb, and first appeared (meaning 'a sharp sound') in the 14th century. The meaning of 'a split or opening' appeared in the 15th century. It is related to the German verb krachen and noun Krach, as well as the Dutch verb kraken and noun krak.
Crack in other languages
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