Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cracker n.3

[crack v.1 (1a); for sense 1 note G. Cochrane, letter, 27 June 1766: ‘I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by crackers, a name they have got from being great boasters, they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia, who often change their places of abode’; also Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather (2001): ‘The Georgia jurist, educator, and author A.B. Longstreet (1790–1870) wrote endearingly of the poor rural whites known as crackers in Georgia Scenes, an 1835 collection of humorous sketches whose purpose, he said, “was to supply a chasm in history which has always been overlooked — the manners, customs, amusements, wit, dialect, as they appear in all grades of society to an eye and ear witness of them.” The term came to be embraced colloquially by Georgians as a source of humor and self-effacing pride; and by the mid-nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, Georgia was known as the Cracker State. In the early 1930’s, Erskine Caldwell, another Georgia author, would show a darker and more sordid side of cracker life in his popular novels Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre; but only later did cracker become the pejorative epithet that it is today, a class slur leveled by other whites or a racial slur cast by blacks’]

1. (US) a poor Southern US white farmer.

[US]Virginia Gaz. 25 June 2/2: a squib [...] Since fairly, Friend, you thus Invite; / With due Respect I cast my Mite. / Whoever reads you, Pindar, over / May have the Pleasure to discover / Your Worms resemble Men so well, /That which is which no Man can tell. / Which makes some People think your Rants / Want Worming like Tobacco-Plants. / But Critics will not be so rude,To blame so just Similitude. / so when you Critics praise, pray name us / Your Hookworms, for Destruction famous; And in Return we you will dub / Our most triumphant swaggering Grub. jack cracker.
[UK]G. Cochrane letter 27 June n.p.: I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by crackers, a name they have got from being great boasters, they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia, who often change their places of abode.
[UK]A. Stokes View of Constitution of British Colonies 140: The Southern Colonies are overrun with a swarm of men from the western parts of Virginia and North Carolina, distinguished by the name of Crackers.
[US]Knickerbocker (N.Y.) viii Sept. 285: The ‘cracker’ soon discovered that he had caught a Tartar.
[US]W.T. Thompson Chronicles of Pineville 35: ‘Now doctor,’ called out the clown, ‘if you want to see a cracker’s neck cracked---’.
[US] ‘Pertaters and Ternups’ in T.A. Burke Polly Peablossom’s Wedding 90: He espied a brawny Cracker ’tending a load of vegetables.
[US]Congressional Globe n.p.: Whether the North Carolina ‘dirt-eater’, or the South Carolina ‘sand-hiller’, or the Georgia ‘cracker’, is lowest in the scale of human existence, would be difficult to say [R].
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 102: Thus an indignant ‘Cracker’ says of a rival still lower in the social scale: ‘I’ve seen him pulling the gopher himself, harnessed to it like a d—d jackass, sir’.
[US]A. Trumble Mysteries of N.Y. 51: The way the Georgia ‘crackers’ can whoop up votes is something remarkable.
[UK] newspaper cutting in J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era (1909) 97/1: Imagine a tall, gaunt, loose-jointed man, with long grizzled hair, deep-set eyes that glow like coals of living fire, high, square shoulders, a stooping, slouching gait; skin wrinkled and dirty beyond pen description; hands and feet immense, the former grimy and with protruding knuckles, the latter incased in cowhide boots with soles an inch thick and of astonishing width; clothes beside which Joseph’s coat would sink into insignificance, so covered are they with patches of divers colours – this is a South Carolina ‘cracker’.
[US]F.E. Daniel Recollections of a Rebel Surgeon 238: You fellers must be familiar with the ‘cracker’ or ‘tackey’ type of Southern people.
[US]Bamberg Herald (SC) 23 May 2/2: ‘We mustn’t stop to look,’ said a couple of girls [...] ‘for people will call us country crackers’.
[US]L.W. Payne Jr ‘Word-List From East Alabama’ in DN III:iv 302: cracker, n. A Georgian. Sometimes called a corn-cracker.
[US]A. Baer Two and Three 4 Feb. [synd. col.] Down in Georgia they gargle near-beer But the wise crackers down there pack fountain pens that contain everything but ink.
[US] ‘I Would Rather Be A Negro Than A Poor White Man’ T.W. Talley Negro Folk Rhymes 42: Gwineter take my gal to de Hullabaloo, / Whar dere hain’t no Crackers in a mile or two.
[US]Z.N. Hurston Mules and Men (1995) 84: Bout this-time John seen a white couple come in but they looked so trashy he figgered they was piney woods crackers.
[US]C. Willingham End as a Man (1952) 126: They use to call him Georgia cracker because he and his pa bought eight hundred niggers in Georgia.
[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 61: A haunted-looking cracker in a grease-stained apron.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 138: You been suckin’ all the come outta a cracka’s prick for two years.
[US]D. Goines Swamp Man 25: Hurry, if’n yo’ don’t wanna have trouble out of them there crackers.
[US](con. 1964–73) W. Terry Bloods (1985) 57: Joe was an all right guy from Georgia [...] If you were to see him the first time, you would just say that’s a redneck, ridge-runnin’ cracker.
[US]C. Hiaasen Stormy Weather 315: It wouldn’t be long before the dumb cracker woke up blathering.
[US]G. Pelecanos Way Home (2009) 52: As for his color [...] it didn’t bother him to be described as a cracker.
[UK]BBC World News 🌐 [Interviewee from Georgia] We might not be the smartest crackers out there but we ain’t the dumbest.
Twitter 24 Feb. 🌐 Fucking crackers who can’t tell an Indian from an Arab from an Iraqui from a Pakistani...Need I go on? It’s an embarrassment to be white .
[US]S.A. Crosby Razorblade Tears 32: ‘You sound like some cracker in an old hillbilly crime movie’.

2. an aphorism.

[UK]Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit (1995) 487: He never lost an opportunity of making up a few moral crackers, to be let off as occasion served.

3. a lie.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 30 Oct. 1/3: Faith! I sid there wud be a blow up! and it came thrue; the divil a Regan iver tould a cracker.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 25 Apr. 4/3: This of course is a double-barrelled fiction. […] The second barrel is a regular cracker. […] This is as big and downright a lie as the one which the Chief Justice was got to tell at the meeting in the Exhibition Building.
[UK]Blackburn Standard 19 Aug. n.p.: When one starts to tell a cracker / It is best to tell a whacker.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Dec. 19/1: Bet your life these two skiters simply got into a quiet pub at bedrock prices, and walked round and ogled a few demireps for an hour or two each night; then got in before closing time and made up crackers to unload on a credulous service.

4. (orig. US black, also cracker-man) a white person, usu. a racist.

[US]E. Walrond Tropic Death (1972) 55: New Orleans ‘crackers’ swearingly cursed the leisurely lack of native labor.
[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 48: I won’t scab on nobody, not even the orneriest crackers.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 234: Even a kind word and a cracker goes a long way with me.
[US]L. Hughes Mulatto in Three Negro Plays (1969) II i: They’re not going to string me up to some roadside tree for the crackers to laugh at.
[US]L. Hughes Laughing to Keep from Crying 13: ‘Why you black bastard!’ quavered the old white man. ‘You white cracker!’ trembled the elderly Negro.
[US]S. Greenlee Spook who Sat by the Door (1972) 16: I’m going out to Washington for a final interview panel and I want to please the crackers.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 5: No PRs hardly, only crackers, spooks and wal-yo.
[US](con. c.1967) J. Ferrandino Firefight 148: Some cracker sold us an ounce of somethin’ he done swept up in a stable. [...] these white boys are full of shuck and jive.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 369: High swank gone white trash – three crackers passed out on the floor.
[US]M. Baker Bad Guys 22: You don got soft. You act like an old cracker-man.
[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 97: He couldn’t miss seeing Bunny’s free show. [...] That cracker pulled his horn in appreciation.
[US]N. McCall Them (2008) 109: Sheeeiiiittt! I ain’t takin that cracker nowhere.
[US]‘Dutch’ ? (Pronounced Que) [ebook] Fuck you, cracka. Take me to the bathroom.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] ‘Cracker runs guns for the ECMF.’ Malone knows the East Coast Motherfuckers are [...] racist, white supremacists. ‘ECMF would do business with black?’.
[US]S.A. Crosby Blacktop Wasteland 96: ‘And if that cracker come at you sideways, get at me’.

In derivatives

crackerism (n.)

the philosophy and practice of white-to-black racism.

People’s Voice (NY) 25 Apr. 1/2: This particular stand against crackerism took place, as it quite often does, on a railroad train.

In compounds

cracker-ass (n.) [-ass sfx]

(US black) a white person; also as adj.

[US]H. Rap Brown Die Nigger Die! 51: Old cracker ass Lightning Bug Johnson knows that’s true.
[UK]J. Mowry Six Out Seven (1994) 115: Cuttin off his finger [...] Cracker-asses used to do that sorta shit to us a long time ago, man.
G. Lewis 1978: Crashed Memories 96: A black kid taunted me snarling, ‘Yo cracker ass White boy. What the fuck is wrong wit yo mutherfucking head?’.
K. Weston Khalil Weston Hour 122: Those cracker ass cops in Voorhees would love to see me in jail.
crackerbox (n.)

(US black) a predominantly white neighbourhood.

[US]Ebonics Primer at 🌐 cracker box Definition: a neighborhood that is occupied by mostly white people. Example: Shit, Mamma!! I gotta go through a cracker box to get to KFC?
cracker-man (n.)

see sense 2 above.

Cracker State (n.)

(US) Georgia.

[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 659: Georgia [...] little deserves the name of Cracker State, by which it is occasionally designated .
J.M. Drake Fast & Loose in Dixie 45: ARRIVAL IN THE CRACKER STATE. IT was a tedious ride to Macon, which we reached shortly after daylight on the 6th.
[US]Outing 33 205: The University of Georgia team is again in the field, despite the attempt by the Georgia Legislature to abolish the game in the Cracker State.
Jrnl Amer. Irish Hist. Soc. 10 370: Eleven of these counties were called after native Irishmen who were prominent at one time or another in the Cracker State.
Jrnl Amer. Veterinary Medical Assoc. 75 3: The number of approved veterinarians in the Cracker State, according to the latest information, is 105.
G.E. Shankle Amer. Nicknames 204/1: Georgia is known by five nicknames: the Buzzard State, the Cracker State, the Goober State [etc.].
[US]Chicago Trib. 27 Jun. IV 8/1: Without doubt this Cracker state Claghorn is concerned that The Tribune is against demagogs [DA].
Hardeman & Steele Shucks, Shocks & Hominy Blocks 20: The ‘Cracker State,’ Georgia, is so named for its one-time class of poor white corncrackers, users of hominy blocks to crush the grain.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 99: cracker. A low-down Southern white, not necessarily from Georgia, though it sometimes is called the Cracker State.