1. in senses of collapse, breakdown.
(a) to fall into disrepair.
|Notable Discovery of Coosnage in Grosart (1881–3) X 45: The partie afraid to have his credit crackt with the worshipfull of the Citie, and the rest of his neighbors.|
|Martin Mark-all 18: You neede feare no punishment, but swagger till your guts cracke.|
|quoted in Annandale Imperial Dict. 615: The credit of the exchequer cracks when little comes in and much goes out .|
(b) to collapse, to break down (emotionally); to cause to break down.
|Clicking of Cuthbert 8: The strain was terrible and I am inclined to think that he must have cracked.|
|Put on the Spot 112: We gave him the fourth degree. He cracked. He spilled the works.|
|Amboy Dukes 79: Kenny [...] felt that Frank might crack.|
|Beat Generation 81: There’s always a day, an hour, a moment, when a human being cracks.|
|Scene (1996) 247: Black’s no more than any other junkie — he’ll crack.|
|Proud Highway (1997) 322: I think it would drive Beverly nuts. It is already cracking Sandy.letter 16 Feb. in|
|Sir, You Bastard 8: Could Wiseman be so naïve as not to crack from the pressure?|
|Nam (1982) 168: I had to send White home — he cracked.|
|Smiling in Slow Motion (2000) 252: We have all endured the family row for two hours. A nurse finally cracks and intervenes.diary 8 Nov.|
|Guardian G2 11 Jan. 5: Many have cracked under the strain of remorseless scrutiny.|
2. in senses of breaking into, breaking open.
(a) to deflower (cf. cracked in the ring under cracked adj.).
|Mother Bombie III iv: lu.: I loue a nut brown lasse, tis good to recreate. half.: Thou meanest, a browne nut is good to crack. lu.: Why wold it not do thee good to crack such a nut? half.: I feare she is worm-eaten within.|
|‘The Loving Chamber-Maid’ in Roxburghe Ballads (1891) VII:2 448: ’Tis a known Maxime, from ages long track’d, / A Chamber-Maid’s simple, unless she be crack’d.|
|Friar and Boy 21: Their maidenheads were crack’d before / By youthful venial sins.|
|‘There’s No Shove Like the First Shove’ Ri-tum Ti-tum Songster 22: O is it not a pleasure, then, / Her little notch to crack.|
|Diary vol. 16 11 May q. in Jrnl Hist. Sexuality (2002) July 450: Another [officer], not so tender-hearted, seized the child [...] and ‘cracked’ her — as these Christian gentlemen themselves elegantly express it.|
|‘Old Gingerbread’ in Bawdy N.Y. State MS. n.p.: We went up stairs and went to bed, / And she asked me to crack her maidenhead.|
|Glass Canoe (1982) 197: He comes out blood all over the front of him, singlet and all. Mum’ll think I cracked a maiden when she goes to wash this, he says.|
(b) to open, orig. of a bottle etc, meaning to have a drink; latterly to open anything, e.g. a door etc.
|implied in crack a bottle|
|Love’s Victory 22: 1 tra.: Come neighbours, shal’s crack each one’s our Kan. [...] 2 tra.: Our Kans, hang the muddle horsedrench, Let’s drink each of us our groat square off. Brisk sack, this forain liquor but Adulterates our blouds.|
|Misc. (1778) 196: After a noble dinner [...] when Sir Charles had retired, on cracking the nineteenth bottle, I ventured to open the business.‘Memoirs of a Sad Dog’|
|‘The Dinner’ in Songs 1 (1842) 215/2: ‘Crack a bottle, Mr Fraction’.|
|I Need The Money 85: Suppose we crack a magnum of Pommery in honor of this victory!|
|Dope 185: How you two smarts can tell a domino from a door-knocker after cracking a dozen magnums gets me guessing.|
|Congaree Sketches 2: En ole Peter cracked de door an’ peep out.|
|Mules and Men (1995) 73: John crept out from under de bed and went to de door and cracked it.|
|Decade 307: Get the bottle I’ve been saving for my ninety-eighth birthday and we’ll crack it now.|
|Come in Spinner (1960) 270: ‘I stuck a coupla bottles of beer in the frig,’ Sport remarked, going to the kitchenette. ‘We might as well crack ’em now.’.|
|On the Yard (2002) 245: Chilly heaved at the door. [...] he managed to crack it a foot, slip inside, and close it after him.|
|Nova Apr. 90: The mean bugger never cracked one of those bottles for the lads.|
|Hooligans (2003) 14: He cracked the window and let the smoke stream out.|
|Corner (1998) 5: Blue cracks the door, then gives way; Curt slips inside.|
|(con. 1970s) King Suckerman (1998) 168: He cracked a beer for Clay.|
|Portable Promised Land (ms.) 11: The gang pulled into the side of Freedom and cracked the hood.|
|Atomic Lobster 61: Coleman and Rachael remained glued in the backseat, cracking more beers.|
(c) to break, e.g. an opponent’s head.
|Cuthbert Curry-Knaues Alms A3: Wee can cracke halfe a score blades in a backe-lane though a Constable come not to part vs.|
|, ,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: I cracked his napper, I broke his head.|
|Life in London (1869) 274: If you have even the good fortune to keep your peepers from being measured for a suit of mourning; your canister from being cracked; and your face from being spoiled among the low coveys of St. Kitt’s [etc.].|
|Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
(d) (also krack) to break open, to break into; thus crack a crib, to break into a house.
|‘The Thief-Ketcher’s Song’ Canting Academy (1674) 145: The fourth is a mill-ken, to crack up a Door; / He’ll venture to rob both the Rich and the Poor.|
|‘A Song on Bartholomew Fair’ in Pills to Purge Melancholy I 254: Your Damsens an Filberds, / Your welcome here to Crack.|
|New Canting Dict. n.p.: crack is also used to break open; as, To crack up a Door; To break a Door open.|
|, , ,||Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].|
|New Dict. Cant (1795).|
|Autobiog. (1930) 293: Crack the qua signifies break the jail. [...] To crack a crabkin signifies to break a shoemaker’s shop.|
|New South Wales II 237: ‘Three peters cracked and frisked,’ made a frequent opening of the morning’s log.|
|Oliver Twist (1966) 190: The crib’s barred up at night like a jail, but there’s one part we can crack, safe and softly.|
|Swell’s Night Guide 64: He touted Billy, like a rank old jib; / And split upon him, when he crack’d a crib. [Ibid.] 68: Thunder me stupid! if she didn’t turn snitch on him; yes, [...] She split on him for a crib-cracking fake.|
|N.Y. Herald 8 Feb. 1/4: The dwelling house of Capt. A. Richardson [...] was ‘kracked’ by some burglarious scoundrel, on Friday night.|
|Kendal Mercury 17 Apr. 6/1: But at last he vas clinched, and bound fast in the start, / An’ for cracking a crib, he vas made for to smart.|
|Bell’s Life in Sydney 4 Nov. 2/6: He cracked a box in the landlord’s bed-room, and stole, or borrowed, some nuggets of gold.|
|It Is Never Too Late to Mend 1 46: Do you remember cracking the silversmith’s shop in Lambeth along with Jem Salisbury and Black George, and – ?|
|Bell’s Life in Sydney 11 Sept. 3/2: ‘Her husband [...] was lumbered’ for ‘cracking a crib’.|
|Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act IV: Never put off till to-morrow the crib I can crack to-day.|
|Galaxy (N.Y.) Mar. 196: ‘Stutter Jack,’ ‘Glimmer George,’ and sundry others with similar improbable names, had arranged the preliminaries for ‘cracking’ the house on a night then some time in the future.|
|Marlborough Express (NZ) 11 Aug. 2/6: Himself and his mate ‘had cracked a crib’ at Brighton, the Jeweller’s shop.|
|Cremorne I 26: Let Handsome Jack make it right to crack the Grange tonight.|
|Police Sergeant C 21 28: It was not unnatural that his ‘crib’ should be, in burglarious circles, cited as an excellent one to ‘crack’.|
|Boss 148: Any hobo could go in with drills an’ spreaders an’ pullers an’ wedgers an’ crack a box.|
|Register (Adelaide) 13 July 4/6: We’ve cracked a few cribs already.|
|Enemy to Society 138: [It] makes me feel no better than those common ‘yeggs’ who crack a post-office safe or rob the till of some poor groceryman.|
|Sun. Times (Perth) 24 Dec. 2s/3: I know of blokes who the cribs have been cracking all; / I know of the murderers, forgers and such.|
|AS III:2 131: If you receive ‘a bid’ to a party you ‘rate’ and if you go without an invitation you ‘crash the gate’ or ‘crack the party’.‘College Sl.’ in|
|Dundee Eve. Teleg. 2 Aug. 6/5: The intelligent cracksman [...] uses his knowledge of the police beats to his own advantage when ‘cracking a crib’.|
|Little Caesar (1932) 11: They got a safe [...] that a baby could crack.|
|(con. 1920s) Hell’s Kitchen 195: One of the toughest nuts to crack would have been Maiden Erlegh, the residence of Mr. Solly Joel.|
|Phenomena in Crime 212: These backstage operators have no difficulty in selecting a likely ‘crib’ and the playboys who are fools enough to ‘crack’ it.|
|Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 130: I wonder if Jeeves can crack a safe?|
|Chosen Few (1966) 240: He edged to the door and unlocked it quietly. He heard Sue take a deep breath as he cracked it.|
|Gonif 96: I [...] decided to crack the speak as soon as the owner and his bouncer left.|
|(con. 1930s–60s) Guilty of Everything (1998) 266: I was wanted in New York for cracking a doctor’s pad in Flushing.|
|Observer Crime 27 Apr. 38: Last September, an IT security firm estimated that over 1,000 UK organisations had been ‘cracked’ into.|
(e) to escape from prison.
|‘Mount’s Flash Song upon himself’ Confessions of Thomas Mount 22: I broke my slangs, then crack’d the quod.|
|Pleasant Jim 58: Why, Pleasant, we’ll crack out of this place.|
|Ten Detective Aces Dec. [Internet] So you spread the word around that McCann had sworn to crack out of jail.‘Fifty-Grand Funeral’ in|
|Gonif 13: Few cons made any attempts to crack the walls with anything less than full strength.|
(f) to work something out, to find a solution.
|(con. 1840s–50s) London Labour and London Poor (1968) III 435: I am now just managing to ‘crack an honest crust’.|
|Big Sleep 81: The sucker list I spoke of is in code. I haven’t cracked it yet.|
|Mountain Murder 25: Will Haynes going back, a special deputy, to try to crack the strangest crime he could remember in the Bull Creek section.|
|Proud Highway (1997) 88: I probably won’t starve in the event I fail to crack the newspaper job market.letter 28 Dec. in|
|Proud Highway (1997) 351: I am at last cracking the language barrrier.letter 28 Aug. in|
|Dear ‘Herm’ 121: Do you think it is too late for me to try to crack the big time as a Writer?|
|Down and Out 81: Men who pretended they had cracked the system.|
|Filth 199: The clues are staring us straight in the face but we just can’t fucking crack it.|
|Guardian Guide 8–14 Jan. 21: He unravels a mathematical code that can crack the riddles contained in the stock market, religion, life and everything.|
|Turning Angel 373: ‘What about Marko’s flash drive?’ ‘I still have that. Let’s just hope it has something useful on it.’ ‘And that Lucien can crack it.’.|
(g) to change money, to break a note into change.
|TAD Lex. (1993) 29: I cracked a $20 bill when I got into the game.in Zwilling|
|Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 83: Can you crack this cholly for me? Knock it out in a few double ruffs, a few sous and brownies.|
|Delinquents 5: He had to crack the pound to pay his fare.|
(h) to break someone down, e.g. during an interrogation.
|Nightmare Town (2001) 113: We better try to crack the woman first.‘Zigzags of Treachery’ in|
|Put on the Spot 112: We gave him the fourth degree. He cracked. He spilled the works.|
|Fabulous Clipjoint (1949) 107: He was going to give us another few days to crack Kaufman.|
|Criminal (1993) 64: The kid’s teacher [...] was a pretty tough nut to crack.|
|Sir, You Bastard 77: If he didn’t crack the two thieves into implicating the manager.|
|You Flash Bastard 105: In spite of what he was, the DI knew instinctively that Lewis would be difficult to crack.|
(i) to seduce a woman; there is no implication of defloration.
|Bed and Bored 33: Lay off the onions if you want to crack a woman.|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.|
3. (S.Afr.) to arrive at.
|Sat. Night at the Palace (1985) 17: We had this old ’48 Dodge. Real kaffir-taxi. Took the old toppie a whole bladdy day to crack Durbs in that thing.|
4. to break a record, to surpass.
|Observer Screen 4 July 27: I don’t have to write a speech or crack a deadline.|
see also under relevant n.
to have a drink.
|Henry IV Pt 2 V iii: You’ll crack a quart together: ha! will you not, Master Bardolph?|
|Night-Walker III i: A day or two hence, may be wee’le cracke a quart yet.|
|Mercurius Fumigosus 36 31 Jan.–7 Feb. 285: Then we will crack a Pot, if not a dozen.|
|‘A Dialogue betwixt Tom and Dick’ in Rump Poems and Songs (1662) ii 188: Come, by this Hand, wee’l crack a quart, Thou’lt pledge his health, I trow.|
|Erasmus Colloquies 186: He and I have crackt many a Bottle together.|
|Love Makes a Man IV i: Shan’t we crack a Bottle first?|
|Comical Dialogue at an Eminent Tavern in Cheapside 2: Well met old Friend Tally — What shall we crack a Pint together.|
|Spectator No. 234 n.p.: He hems after him in the public street, and they must crack a bottle at the next tavern [F&H].|
|Tom Jones (1959) 258: ‘What,’ says the wife. ‘You have been tippling with the gentlemen, I see?’ – ‘Yes,’ answered the husband, ‘we have cracked a bottle together.’.|
|He Would be a Soldier IV i: We must be good friends again now we have crack’d a bottle together.|
|Song Smith 85: If you don’t take a glass at my expense, dam’me, I’ll crack a bottle at yours.|
|Doctor Syntax, Picturesque (1868) 93/2: O, how I long to crack a bottle / With such a friend of Aristotle!|
|Adventures of Johnny Newcome III 142: Folks who after dinner sit, And bottles crack instead of wit.|
|Real Life in London I 140: The length of time that had elapsed since our last meeting was sufficient inducement for us to crack a bottle together.|
|Woodstock I ii: Sober! pshaw — why I did but crack a brace of quarts.|
|Cruise of the Midge I 180: Let us crack a bottle of Sally’s champagne.|
|Barry Lyndon (1905) 207: I chose to invite the landlords of the ‘Bell’ and the ‘Lion’ to crack a bottle with me.|
|, ,||Sl. Dict.|
|Night Side of N.Y. 62: There’s a club-house, just over the way, [...] we’ll go across there and crack a bottle of champagne.|
|Katerfelto 138: Abner Gale [...] accepted his lordship’s invitation to supper, and cracked a bottle with him.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 16 May 12/2: ‘What is your name?’ ‘Susie Perkins,’ replied the frisky maid. ‘And where do you live?’ thundered the Judge. Upon which the giddy girl threw a loving glance at his Washup […] and said, ‘Ah! what’s the use of telling a steady ole fellow like you? You’d never step round an’ crack a bottle o’ fizz with me, would you?’.|
|S.F. Call 3 Feb. 9/2: In the meantime crack a bottle of wine at my expense.|
|Palestine Dly Herald (TX) 19 July 4/2: Then we hope and expect to crack a bottle of the very best.|
|Wash. Herald (DC) 23 Feb. 14/2: About 150 are expected to break bread and crack a bottle in memory of Fair Harvard.|
|Ulysses 386: I have just cracked a half bottle avec lui in a circle of the best wits of the town.|
|True Drunkard’s Delight.|
|A Good Keen Man 117: Jim cracked a bottle of beer.|
see under fat n.
to break into and rob a house; thus ken-cracking n., housebreaking.
|‘How a Flat became a Prigg’ Confessions of Thomas Mount 22: Ken-cracking caus’d the blade to swing, / And ‘Jack tuck’d up was just the thing’.|
|‘A London Ken-cracking Song’ in Confessions of Thomas Mount 20: Sir Robert’s ken we meant to crack.|
|‘Sonnets for the Fancy’ in Boxiana III 622: And while his flaming mot was on the lay, / With rolling kiddies, Dick would dive and buz, And cracking kens concluded ev’ry day.|
|‘Jerry Abershaw’s Will’ in Fal-Lal Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 16: This popper cured the charley! vhen we crack’d the doctor’s ken.|
|Sixteen String Jack I v: Now comes the grand spec; we go to crack a ken; Kit’s in, so’s the captain.|
see separate entries.
see cracked pitcher under cracked adj.
(US) to open a book (for the purpose of study).
|Plastic Age 100: I didn’t crack the book till two days ago.|
|AS VII:6 437: If a student gets a ‘smoke-up,’ a notice that he is failing, he starts to ‘bone,’ ‘dryball,’ ‘Phi-bete,’ ‘grind,’ ‘hit the books,’ ‘crack books,’ or ‘dust ’em off,’ which is to study.‘More Stanford Expressions’ in|
|Beat Generation 121: But I’d never crack a book. I’d be downstairs in the Pad every night.|
|Tales (1969) 12: Phil’s cracking the books.|
|Ladies’ Man (1985) 236: I haven’t cracked book Two since last year.|
|Sl. U. 63: crack the books/crack it to study.|
|Zap Comix 13 in Coffee Table Art Book (1997) 25: I cracked a few books, dropped out of the church, had a thin grasp of socialism [etc.] .|
|Campus Sl. Apr.|
see separate entries.
SE in slang uses
see separate entry.
a street-seller of nuts.
|,||Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.|
|, ,||Sl. Dict.|
a rogue, a villain.
|Supposes I iv: You crackhalter, if I catch you by the ears, I’ll make you answer directly.(trans.)|
|School of Abuse (1868) 30: Plutarch with a caueat keepeth them out, not so much as admitting the little crackhalter that carrieth his maisters pantouffles.|
|Passionate Morrice (1876) 91: It is a halting crack-halter, and a hurtfull hinderloue, and best he be knowne by his stumpe foote.|
|Northward Hoe IV i: Featherstones boy, like an honest crack-halter, laid open all to one of my prentices.|
|The Wandering Jew 63: I [a hangman] am hated, revil’d by crack-halters, scolded at by fish-wives, and oftentimes after an Execution, almost beaten to death by them.|
|Sauny the Scot IV i: Come hither, Crack-Hemp.|
|Pronouncing Dict. 125/2: Crack-Hemp, A wretch fated to the gallows.|
|Goethe: a New Pantomime in Poetical Works 2 (1878) 337: Crackhemp, Cullion, Blabber, Boor, / Vile bog-trotter. Whipper-snapper / You're a pretty god, I’m sure .|
see jaw-breaking adj.
1. a rogue, a villain.
|Damon and Pithias (1571) Fi: Away you cracke ropes, are you fighting at the Courte gate?|
|Appius and Virginia in (1908) 12: You cod’s-head, you crack-rope, you chattering pie.|
|Three Lords and Three Ladies of London C 1: I warrant, heer’s two crackropes knew him.|
|Sir Clyomon and Sir Clamydes in Dyce (1861) 516: What, will you not flout an old man, you courtnold Jack? [...] You courtnoll crackropes, would be hang’d!|
|Martin Mark-all 7: The fittest place to receiue so ignoble a Court of Crack-ropes. [Ibid.] 35: These cousening Crack-ropes, singing, hollowing and whooping, dancing and whistling.|
|Unnatural Combat II ii: Peace, you crack-rope!|
|Fifteen Real Comforts of Matrimony 81: A gang of crack-ropes had got an honest simple fellow once and made him believe that for so much money they would carry him to a place where he should find a stone that would make him invisible. The credulous goose agrees.|
|Belphegor IV iii: My boy — an arrant crack-rope, father’s own son.|
2. attrib. use of sense 1.
|Wily Beguiled 13: Why, Robin Goodfellow is this same cogging, petifogging, crackeropes Calve-skin companion.|
|English-Men For My Money C 2: Heres such a common hant of Crack-rope boyes.|
|Tinker of Turvey 71: His officious and most dutifull Crackrope Sonne Marmaduke.|
|Wanderings to see Wonders of West 16: The crack rope soldiers have broken all the bell-ropes.|
|Heart of Mid-Lothian (1883) 308: ‘Hark ye, ye crack-rope padder, born-beggar, and bred thief!’ replied the hag.|
|Royal Cornwall Gaz. 4 Feb. 6/3: The Bells [...] being faire and handsome, they cannot be rung because the crack-rope souldiers have broke all the bell-ropes.|
(Aus.) to have an abortion.
|Lily on the Dustbin 36: Other synonyms [for an abortion] include ‘slip a joey’, ‘crack an egg’, [...] ‘need a scrape’ (which can be a curette recommended for other reasons) or ‘have appendicitis’.|
to laugh, to smile.
|[||Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 13: cracked face, to have a To smile].|
|You Can Search Me 26: He didn’t crack a smile.|
|Ballygullion 136: An’ even Tammas an’ wee Billy couldn’t help crackin’ a smile.|
|‘You’re My Best Poker Hand’ [lyrics] I looked at my hand and not a smile did I crack.|
|Men from the Boys (1967) 12: A poor joke that Ross didn’t crack a smile over.|
|Down These Mean Streets (1970) 127: I cracked a smile and got up and yawned and stretched.|
|Traveller’s Tool 26: Gwen had trouble cracking a smile.|
|Sweet La-La Land (1999) 27: Younger didn’t crack a smile.|
|Grand Central Winter (1999) 16: When he didn’t want to laugh, nothing on this earth could make him so much as crack a grin.|
|Skull Session 427: Mo cracked a grin.|
|Guardian 26 July [Internet] Stella hasn’t managed to crack a smile for me.|
(Aus.) to work as a prostitute.
|in glossary to Two Plays.|
|Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 7: She had been posted on the possie for over a fairy bower and had not cracked it.|
to laugh uproariously, until one feels actual pain.
|Careless Husband II ii: I am ready to crack my guts with laughing to see a senseless Flirt [...] give herself all of the insolent Airs of Refinement].|
|‘Reviews of Sexy Beast’ at IFILM.com [Internet] Brilliant opening. I cracked my ribs laughing when the boulder hit the pool.|
(N.Z.) to take one’s share or turn, esp. in buying a round of drinks.
|Golden Bush 166: You’ve carried it all the way up here and now you can crack your whip. Open sesame.|
|Eng. Lang. in Aus. and N.Z. 148: I have heard ‘Can he crack his whip?’ used to mean ‘Does he join us for a drink in the pub?’ or ‘Is he a good drinking man?’ [DNZE].|
|DNZE].Ten Thousand Dogs 85: When one did get a win he had to crack the whip. [Ibid.] 168: Crack your whip: To shout or stand drinks [|
|Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 31/2: Can he crack his whip? is he a good drinking man?|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].|
(US campus) to humiliate, to insult.
|Campus Sl. Fall 3: crack someone’s face – prove wrong, insult, tease: I guess he cracked my face.|
(orig. US) to make someone laugh.
|in Hellhole 238: She used to crack me up because she really believed that I’d never go back to a man now that she was my lover.|
|(con. 1960s) Wanderers 41: Ah, you guys crack me up.|
|Source Oct. 150: Crackin’ kids up with their gallows humor and tall tales.|
|Observer Screen 9 Jan. 7: She cracks me up.|
see pitch the crack under pitch v.