Green’s Dictionary of Slang

crack v.1

1. in senses of speech or communication.

(a) to boast or brag; thus cracker, a braggart, cracking, boasting.

[UK]Chaucer Reeve’s Tale (1979) line 147: He craketh boost, and swoor it was nat so.
[UK]Towneley Mysteries ‘First Shepherds’ Play’ line 79–86: Both bosters and bragers [...] Gose to and fro For to crak.
[UK]J. Hardyng Chronicle Ded. viii: Ye Scottes will aye bee bostyng & crakyng [OED].
[UK]Skelton Bowge of Courte line 168: And, yf nede be, a bolde worde I dare cracke.
[Scot]A. Barclay Eglogues Fiiii: When diet, excedeth temperaunce, Then followeth slouth [...] lechery, Blasphemyng, liying, crakyng, and periury.
[UK]Skelton Colyn Cloute (1550) Aii: He cryeth and he creketh He pryeth and he peketh.
[UK]J. Rastell Gentleness and Nobility line 201: Here ye may say, syrs, by Goddys passyon, Two proude folys make a crakkyng, And when it commyth to poynt, dare do no thyng .
[UK]R. Copland Hye way to the Spyttel House Di: Rufflers and masterles men that cannot werke / And slepeth by day, and walketh in the derke [...] Swerynge and crakynge an easy lyfe to lede.
[UK]Udall Ralph Roister Doister I i: All the day long he is facing and craking / Of his great acts in fighting and fray-making.
[UK]‘Placebo’ in May & Bryson Verse Libel 169: Now to Sir John Baker, / He is not the greatest craker.
[UK]Bishop Pilkington Burnynge of Paules Church Di: They crake so proudly of the auncientye of their masse.
[UK]Lyly Euphues (1916) 77: Though thou crack of thine own courage, thou mayest easily lose the conquest.
[UK]Lyly Euphues and his England (1916) 270: Little do I esteem [...] those that crack of their love and have no modesty.
G. Harvey Trimming of Nashe E: So you may cracke your selfe abroad, and get to be reported the man you are not.
[UK]R. Burton Anatomy of Melancholy (1850) 186: Your very tradesmen, if they be excellent, will crack and brag, and show their folly in excess.
[UK] ‘The Merry Country Maid’s Answer’ in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads (1891) VII:2 340: To this height and bigness he could crack and lie, / Yet our folks can witness he were scarce Hog-high.
[UK]Witts Recreations ‘Fancies & Fantasticks’ No. 119: And let them that crack / In the praisies of Sack, / Know malt is of mickle might.
[UK]M. Stevenson Wits Paraphras’d 29: Let ’em all crack of Deeds and Wonders, / Of their high Birth, of Claps, and Thunders.
[Ire]‘Irish Hudibras’ in A. Carpenter Verse in Eng in 18C Ireland (1998) 48: There’s ne’er a one / For us to crack of, when he’s gone.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Cracking, Boasting, Vaporing.
[UK]J. Addison Drummer I i: Thou art always cracking and boasting.
[UK]A. Murphy Upholsterer I i: Not much to crack of Mr. Brazen.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 329: Well may thy good old daddy crack; / Than his true-born he loves thee more, / Because thy mother was a whore.
[UK]Young Coalman’s Courtship 5: Crack well o’ our wealth, and hide our poverty.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 90: [as cit. 1772].
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]J. Bell Jr. (ed.) Rhymes of Northern Bards 167: He had great cause to crack of wealth.
[Scot]Proceedings of Jockey and Maggy 32: Jockey and his mither came hame together, chick for chew, cracking like two hand guns.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 209: With all your crackin and boastin of your freedom, I guess, you wouldn’t sell a clock agin in that State.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker III 183: Proper proud of it he was too, a-boastin’ and a-crackin’ of it for everlastingly.
[UK]‘Epistle from Joe Muggins’s Dog’ in Era (London) 26 Dec. 3/4: Beresford has got a filly [...] he is cracking a deal about.
[US]T. Haliburton Nature and Human Nature I 14: Is it to be wondered at [...] that I should crack and boast of them?
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 223/2: Oxford, and Francis, and Bean were a little better, but nothing to crack about.
[Aus]Coburg Leader (Vic.) 28 Sept. 4/1: The Duke of Moreland is a great authority on gold mining. So he cracks.
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Informal Execution of Soupbone Pew’ From First to Last (1954) 69: Soupbone cracked that no ’bo could ride his division, and he made it good, too.
[UK]C. Holme Lonely Plough (1931) 39: He’ll crack for a week about it if happen he gets the chance.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 31 July 5/6: Cormac, as fiddler, cracks that he can play .

(b) to talk; thus cracking, talking.

[Ire]‘To the Reverend T— T— ’ in A. Carpenter Verse in Eng. in 18C Ireland (1998) 553: I could spen’ mony a cheerfu’ summer / To crack wi’ Virgil, Pope, an’ Homer.
[Scot]A. Douglas ‘Last Day of Hairst’ Poems in Scot. Dialect 150: I’ll come an’ get a pint an’ crack / Wi’ you about the matter.
[UK]Cumberland Pacquet 12 Dec. 4/4: I sing the pitmen’s plagues and cares / Their pay-night o’er a foaming pot / All clean wash’d up, their way pursue / To drink and crack.
[UK] ‘Wonderful Times’ in Holloway & Black (1979) II 224: I would have you lock your ---gates, & never let them crack.
[UK]Devizes & Wilts. Gaz. 26 Jan. 4/1: Weel, Ben, ye’re alive. I’m thinking; [...] we’ll crack of langsyne after the anchor is gone.
[US]H.B. Stowe Uncle Tom’s Cabin 6: A little humanity thrown in along goes a heap further than all your jawin’ and crackin’.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 36/2: Well, Joe, what about that ‘sugar’ you and the ‘moll’ were ‘cracking’ about when I was ‘ear-wigging’ in the passage?
[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 11: ‘Mis’ Pango’s crackin’ at your other husbing!’ cried little Minnie valiantly.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 92: Someone has been crackin about me an that anti-loafer law.
[Ire]L. Doyle Dear Ducks 264: We sat there crackin’ for five or ten minits.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Lonely Heart’ Runyon on Broadway (1954) 490: Widow Crumb does not crack to him about her other husbands.
[US]F. Brown Dead Ringer 117: I got it that I wasn’t to crack to Lee about what we really were going in town for.
[US]‘Blackie’ Audett Rap Sheet 101: I just went my way and never cracked to nobody.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 85: He was a true disciple of the field, he never used a hammer, / or cracked it by the shield while stickin’ in the slammer.
[US]F. Hilaire Thanatos 17: I don’t know why I’m cracking to you.
[UK]P. Barker Blow Your House Down 22: He’d never crack on what he earned.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 91: That’s a good one, O.G. Very fucking funny. Let’s see if you’re still cracking sideways when the cops got you all strained up.

(c) to make a remark (to someone).

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Feb. 7/4: And we remember on one occasion, when some miscreant cracked this sorry wheeze, a gentleman, whom Melancholy had Marked for Her Own, said it was ‘almost good enough for Punch’.
[UK]Sporting Times 4 Jan. 6: There they are cracking their chestnuts like one o’clock.
[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 21: ‘[F]inally Muggins cracks dat he’d like t’ take a lesson or two from somebody dat knowed de game’.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘In Vino Veritas’ Sporting Times 30 June 1/4: I cracked the old wheeze — late at biz.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 4 Mar. 2/6: His ideas was Socialistic— / Tho’ whatever that may mean / I don’t know, but never cracks it, / Else I be considered green.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 18 Feb. 8/6: She did crack that she was short, / Saying that the joss who run her, / Never slung it, as he ought.
[US]R. Lardner Gullible’s Travels 79: I wouldn’t tell you, only I know you’re not the village gossip and won’t crack it to anybody.
[US]N. Anderson Hobo 221: I leave an opening for a drunk or someone to ask me a question or crack a joke.
[UK]P. Cheyney Dames Don’t Care (1960) 54: I crack back that any time I have to wait to see Mr Burdell I will commit hari-kiri with a tin-opener.
[Aus]A. Marshall These Are My People (1957) 54: ‘I like to hear you crack Bruiser,’ he told me in confidence.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 28: I used to cruise around [...] waiting for one of those peasants to crack at me.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 50: I would crack, ‘Oscar, my man, I like you.’.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 29: I cracked it was my birthday.
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 207: Hes on a mega bubble, prattlin on about the future, crackin crap one-liners.

(d) to praise, to promote.

[UK]Bristol Magpie 15 Mar. 12/2: A play called The Dead Letter is thus ‘cracked’ [...] ‘No better advertised drama on earth, and it is by no means certain that it can be licked on any of the other planets’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 May 24/3: They crack Worboys to be better than I ever was [...]. At the same time my bit goes on the tried man.

(e) to chatter.

[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 231: Don’t be crackin’ loud about bettin’.
[US](con. 1919) Dos Passos Nineteen Nineteen in USA (1966) 475: He got to cracking with one of the officers.

(f) (US campus) to be very funny, to make people laugh.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 63: Jope, that joke you told was hysterical. You totally crack!

2. in the context of (sudden) noise and/or action.

(a) to break wind; thus cracking, breaking wind.

[[UK]The Frere and Boy (1836) lviii: When sche loked on her son Jake Weyteley her tayle spake And the weynd began to crake].
[UK]Mercurius Democritus 9 Nov. 644: Here’s Siss that cannot hold her Water, / And Sue that cracks behinde with laughter.
[UK]Witts Recreations Epitaph No. 23: A Farts Epitaph. Reader it was born, and cry’d, Crack’d so, smelt so, and so dy’d.
[UK]M. Stevenson Wits Paraphras’d 127: She blew thee out of her Posteriors, / Which made a Bouncing and a Rottle / [...] / A noise like that makes neighbouring nation / Take snuff in Nose and fall in passion / [...] / I would dispecne with all thy cracking.
[UK]N. Ward Compleat and Humorous Account of Remarkable Clubs (1756) 33: [He] made Interest to be admitted into the Trumpeting Society, that he might manifest his Excellence among the cracking Performers.
[UK]Bog-House and Glass-Window Misc. 40: Reader, I was born, and cry’d; / I crack’d, I smelt, and so I dy’d.
[UK]Friar and Boy Pt I 9: I wish her bum might then let go, And crack like roaring thunder [...] And then a cracker she let fly, That almost shook the ground.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 417: How can you lie, you drowsy hound, / And snore, and crack, and sleep so sound.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 201: He, in less than half an hour, / began to crack, and snort, and snore.
[Ire]D. Healy Bend for Home 44: He cracked in my face. A thick foggy smell of fart reached me.

(b) to hit (with a loud noise), to slap; esp. in threat I’ll crack you one; thus cracking, hitting.

[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 19 Dec. 76: I’ll Crack your Crown as a Man woul’d crack a Nutshell.
[Ire] ‘If I Had A Donkey’ Dublin Comic Songster 317: If all had been like me, in fact, / There’d be no occasion for Martin’s hact, / Dumb creatures to prevent getting cracked on the head; / For if I had a donkey wot wouldn’t go I never would wollop him – no, no, no.
[US]F.P. Dunne in Schaaf Mr Dooley’s Chicago (1977) 45: The minute he poked his whiskers out of his office some crazy arnychist was liable to crack away at him with a gaspipe bomb.
[US]S. Crane in N.Y. Journal 25 Oct. in Stallman (1966) 165: I jest cracked ’im under d’ ear [...] An it laid ’im flat out, too.
[US]‘Number 1500’ Life In Sing Sing 247: Cracking. act of striking.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 20 Mar. 5/4: Spenny May says he will crack the one who puts his name in ‘Sport’ .
[UK]F. Anthony ‘Gus Buys a Horse’ Me and Gus (1977) 18: If anyone had spoken to me like that I’d have cracked them.
[US]E.S. Gardner ‘Bird in the Hand’ in Goulart (1967) 285: I cracked him an easy one.
[UK]G. Fairlie Capt. Bulldog Drummond 55: Crack him over his nut, that may bring him to his senses.
[NZ]I. Hamilton Till Human Voices Wake Us 53: Mac was [...] doing nine months for [...] cracking a copper.
[US]R. Chandler Playback 71: You cracked me on the head with a whisky bottle.
[Aus](con. 1944) L. Glassop Rats in New Guinea 112: If he wakes up I’ll crack him on the skull.
[UK]T. Lewis Billy Rags [ebook] I’d cracked him easily, publicly, quickly. I was top.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 15: One came from nowhere, ripped a paling off the fence and cracked them both.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 31/1: crack to hit.
[UK]Guardian 1 Apr. 6: She sobbed: ‘Sol’s just cracked me one.’.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
[US]C. Stella Charlie Opera 23: You wanna crack some broad in the mouth because she slapped you one in the face.

(c) (also crack off) to let off a firearm; thus cracking, firing.

[UK]Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 137: As we are on shore, you and I must crack a pistol at one another.
[UK]Leeds intelligencer 5 Jan. 7/4: Pistols were repeatedly fired off; and indeed Mr Stephens requested them to give over ‘cracking them’ [...] he wished them desist as the noise annoyaed him.
[US]W.H. Thomes Slaver’s Adventures 354: ‘I’ve just got his distance,’ said the mate. ‘Let me crack at him once more, and I’ll do better.’.
[US]W.M. Raine Bucky O’Connor (1910) 220: I look to see a dramatic exit to the sound of cracking Winchesters.
[US]A.J. Barr Let Tomorrow Come 228: These screws are all so chipper they would break out guns and make them crack after a running vic for the fun of it.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 28 June Proud Highway (1997) 529: Now and then I crack off a 12-gauge blast at them.

(d) (US) to shoot dead; thus cracking, shooting .

[UK]R.F. Walond Paddiana I 67: If ye came here airlier ye’d have grate cracking. Sure there’s a power of fowl, and a grate deal of hares.
[US]Wash. Post 21 Jan. 2/8: Cracked – Shot.
[US](con. 1964–73) W. Terry Bloods (1985) 21: I cracked him, because it just ran through my mind it would be either him or me. I just fired from the hip.
[Ire]Breen & Conlon Hitmen 250: ‘Ah, man, we can crack him a hundred times’.

(e) see crack on v.1 (1)

In compounds

crackfart (n.) [fart n. (1)]

a general term of abuse, a blusterer; an empty gesture.

[UK]Man in the Moon 23-30 Apr. 19: An act [...] a Parliament Crack-fart for disposing of Prizes before they have taken them.
Crack upon Crack 1: That Dissembling Tool who Nick-names himself Trueman, though indeed the meerest Crack-fart in the World.
[UK]N. Ward ‘Battel without Bloodshed’ in Writings (1704) 123: Meer Crackfarts, who only go out to make Bounces.
[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 20 Aug. 7: I cannot, with Patience, hear a Finikin Little Crack-fart accuse Persons of Honour [...] with such Indecent Familiarities.

In phrases

crack (a) boo (v.) [? crack a bell under bell n.1 ]

(Aus.) to betray a secret, to display one’s emotions.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 23 Sept. 4s/7: ‘Bring me some cigarettes,’ sez Loo, ‘An’ I won’t crack a boo’.
Healesville Guardian (Vic.) 25 Feb. 2/2: ’Ere, Wayback, I’ll let you into the know, only don’t crack boo. It’s an airship.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis Songs of Sentimental Bloke gloss. 🌐 Crack a boo – To divulge a secret; to betray emotion.
[Aus]Wodonga & Towong Sentinel (Vic.) 29 Mar. 2/6: I want you not to crack a boo / But I’ve heard it’s their intention [etc.].
[Aus]Mail (Adelaide) 17 Mar. 1s/1: ‘Well,’ he went on, when ev’rybody in th’ hall had yelled out they wouldn’t crack a boo.
[Aus]Argus (Melborune) 28 Aug. 8/1: Although the glamrous night-clubsinger was too dazed to ‘crack a boo,’ she’s ‘loved that guy from that moment on’.
[Aus] ‘Bluey Brink’ in J. Lahey Great Aus. Folk Songs 79: Bluey drank acid without cracking a boo, / Saying, ‘That’s the stuff, Jimmy! Strike me stone dead, / This’ll make me the ringer of Stevenson’s shed!’.
crack a fart (v.)

see under fart n.

crack a lay (v.) [? lay n.3 ]

1. (orig. UK Und.; later use chiefly Aus.) to betray, to gossip about, to ‘spill the beans’.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 25/2: You mustn’t ‘crack a lay’ about this to any one.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 9 Dec. 7/3: That's forbidden. Mr. Norton, / Who’s a-goin to crack a lay? / Not them ancient devils, surely.
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 31 Jan. 6/2: Never crack a lay on a sport? Not me!
[UK](con. 1840) Eve. Dispatch (London) 28 Aug. 4/3: Although recognised by his former companions they did not, to use their own slang term, ‘crack a lay,’ but looked around to find ways to gain money by means of [...] pugilistic knowledge.
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 26: You won’t crack a lay about playin’ against the Royal, will ya?

2. to speak, to ‘say the word’.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 127/2: I’ll ‘namase’ ryght off an’ ‘pal in’ wi’ Mary Ann Gallagher [...] I knoa shoo’ll ’ave me iv I neowt but ‘crack the lay’.
[Aus]S. Gore Holy Smoke 65: They wasn’t game to crack a lay in front of the mob after that.
crack a sad (v.)

(Aus.) to be upset.

[Aus]T. Winton Lockie Leonard: Scumbuster (1995) 121: Why are you cracking a sad?
[Aus]T. Winton ‘Big World’ in Turning (2005) 4: I want to be safe from the guilts – the old girl will crack a sad on me.
crack at (v.)

(US) to attack verbally, to criticize.

H.G. van Campen ‘Life on Broadway’ in McClures Mag. Aug. 194/2: ‘Vangie, even if you are my pal, I am not a-goin’ to set here an’ have her cracked at so crool’.
crack down (v.)

1. (US) to work hard.

[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 56: Crack Down. – To [...] work unusually hard.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 795: crack down – To place close attention to, or to work unusually hard.

2. to repress, to take harsh measures against, esp. used of a campaign against vice or crime.

[US]R. Sale ‘A Nose for News’ in Goulart (1967) 202: Dad’s cracked down on him lately. Won’t give him money.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald ‘Pat Hobby’s Christmas Wish’ in Pat Hobby Stories (1967) 30: We killed Taylor. We should have cracked down on him sooner.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 215: The state obligingly cracked down with tough rules.
[US]C. Himes Blind Man with a Pistol (1971) 98: When it turns out wrong [...] the commissioner cracks down and the press gets on my ass.
[US]J. Conaway Big Easy 166: We’re cracking down on the kooks, queers, kinks, and Commies.
[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 30: Warden White was growing apprehensive, feeling the latest buildup. ‘I’ve got to crack down, Red,’ he said.
[US]Delacoste & Alexander Sex Work (1988) 193: Hotels are often the prime movers in efforts to get police to ‘crack down’ on prostitutes.
[UK]Guardian G2 21 June 9: Phillip II cracked down on the sizeable minority of Moriscos.
[US]W. Shaw Westsiders 256: The police have been trying to crack down on the Sunday-night cruise every summer for years now.

3. (US) as imper., to stop talking.

[UK]E. North Nobody Stops Me 59: Now crack down, or I’ll knock the dust out of you.
cracking but facking [SE fact]

(US black) conveying hard factual information in the guise of jokes and humour.

[US]Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 1009: I’m cracking but I’m facking: I’m wisecracking, but I’m telling the truth.
crack mugs (v.) [mug n.1 (2a); the implication is of their worthlessness and the gullibility of the purchasers]

(Aus.) to sell racing tips.

[Aus]K.S. Prichard Kiss on the Lips n.p.: ‘Oh! I been crackin’ mugs, Missisabella.’ ‘Crackin’ mugs?’ ‘Hitchin’-on to mugs at the races, miss, and tippin’ winners at a bob a time.’.
crack off (v.)

1. (US) to make jokes, to make ‘smart’ comments.

[US] oral testimony cited in Lighter HDAS.
[US]R. Price Clockers 183: Who the fuck you crackin’ off to.

2. see sense 2c above.

crack on (v.)

1. (US black) to break down in laughter.

[US]W.D. Myers Hoops 98: ‘What we’re going to work on today,’ Cal said, ‘is Mr. Calvin Jones’s TIT.’ ‘It sounds better than Gatorade,’ Roy said, and everybody cracked on that.
[US]W.D. Myers Won’t Know Till I Get There 153: Mom cracked up. I guess she had been hearing the lectures for so long she needed to crack on something.

2. see sense 1f above .

3. see separate entries.

crack one’s jaw (v.) (also crack one’s jib)(US black)

1. to boast, to brag.

[US]J.L. Kuethe ‘Prison Parlance’ in AS IX:1 26: crack one’s jaw. To boast. He’s just cracking his jaw, i.e., he’s boasting.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 51/2: Crack one’s jaw. (Perm, and environs; mid-West; near South) To talk boastfully; to bluster.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.

2. to speak.

[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 97: I figured I’d be out of line if I cracked my jaw.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 131: Don’t crack your jib unless I rap to you.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad.
crack the tag (v.) [image of opening a beer-can]

(Aus.) to broach a subject.

[Aus]J. Byrell (con. 1959) Up the Cross 17: The Scholar cracked the tag and suggested to Whiffy Maloney that regular ablution was a plus.
crack up at (v.)

to abuse, to criticize.

[US]W.D. Myers Mojo and the Russians 76: [H]e started cracking up on me because of that stupid thing I said to Kitty.
[UK]A. Warner Sopranos 133: Like when she cracked up at Kay Clarke, the day.
crack wise (v.)

see separate entry.

what’s cracking?

(orig. US black) a general excl. of greeting.

Nationwide Rip Ridaz ‘Niggaz Don’t Want No Problem’ 🎵 I said, “What’s crackin’”.
[US]Da Bomb 🌐 30: What’s crackin?: Greeting; How are you doing?
[US]Dr Dre ‘Let’s Get High’ 🎵 Mel-Man what’s crackin? / Whassup wit all these ol’ punk ass hoes in here?
[US]Teen Lingo: The Source for Youth Ministry 🌐 what’s crackin? See wassup?
Lil Wayne ‘I’m Raw’ 🎵 What’s poppin, what it do, what’s happenin, what’s crackin’, que pasa.
Gift of Gab ‘Wack But Good People’ 🎵 What’s crackin, homeboy?