Green’s Dictionary of Slang

crack v.2

1. in senses of collapse, breakdown.

(a) [late 16C–18C] to fall into disrepair.

(b) [1920s+] to collapse, to break down (emotionally); to cause to break down.

2. in senses of breaking into, breaking open.

(a) [late 16C–1930s] to deflower (cf. cracked in the ring under cracked adj.).

(b) [late 16C+] to open, orig. of a bottle etc, meaning to have a drink; latterly to open anything, e.g. a door etc.

(c) [late 16C–early 19C] to break, e.g. an opponent’s head.

(d) [late 17C–mid-19C] (also krack) to break open, to break into; thus crack a crib, to break into a house.

(e) [late 18C+] to escape from prison.

(f) [mid-19C+] to work something out, to find a solution.

(g) [20C+] to change money, to break a note into change.

(h) [1920s+] to break someone down, e.g. during an interrogation.

(i) to seduce a woman; there is no implication of defloration.

3. [1980s] (S.Afr.) to arrive at.

4. [1990s+] to break a record, to surpass.

In phrases

crack... (v.)

see also under relevant n.

crack a bottle (v.) (also crack a quart, ...pint, ...pot)

[late 16C+] to have a drink.

crack a fat (v.)

see under fat n.

crack a ken (v.) (also crack a swag) [ken n.1 (1)/swag n.1 (1)]

[18C–early 19C] to break into and rob a house; thus ken-cracking n., housebreaking.

crack it (v.)

see separate entries.

crack the books (v.) (also crack a book, crack it)

[1920s–70s] (US) to open a book (for the purpose of study).

crack up

see separate entries.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

crackbrain (n.)

see separate entry.

crack-fencer (n.) [SE crack (of a nut) + -fencer sfx]

[mid-19C] a street-seller of nuts.

crack halter (n.) (also crack hemp) [the halter is the hangman’s noose/hemp refers to the hempen noose]

[16C–17C] a rogue, a villain.

crack-rope (n.) [SE crack + rope; thus one who might stretch the hangman’s rope]

1. [mid-16C–early 19C] a rogue, a villain.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

In phrases

crack an egg (v.)

[1980s] (Aus.) to have an abortion.

crack a smile (v.) (also crack a grin)

[1940s+] to laugh, to smile.

crack it (for a quid) (v.) [SE crack, to open, in this case her legs]

[1960s+] (Aus.) to work as a prostitute.

crack one’s ribs (v.) (also crack one’s guts)

[mid-19C+] to laugh uproariously, until one feels actual pain.

crack one’s whip (v.) (also crack the whip)

[1950s–80s] (N.Z.) to take one’s share or turn, esp. in buying a round of drinks.

crack someone’s face (v.)

[1980s] (US campus) to humiliate, to insult.

crack someone up (v.)

[1960s+] (orig. US) to make someone laugh.