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13 Essential Literary Terms

cracking

[krak-ing] /ˈkræk ɪŋ/
noun
1.
(in the distillation of petroleum or the like) the process of breaking down certain hydrocarbons into simpler ones of lower boiling points by means of excess heat, distillation under pressure, etc., in order to give a greater yield of low-boiling products than could be obtained by simple distillation.
adverb
2.
extremely; unusually:
We saw a cracking good match at the stadium.
adjective, Informal.
3.
done with precision; smart:
A cracking salute from the honor guard.
Idioms
4.
get cracking. crack (def 53).
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English; see crack, -ing1, -ing2

crack

[krak] /kræk/
verb (used without object)
1.
to break without complete separation of parts; become fissured:
The plate cracked when I dropped it, but it was still usable.
2.
to break with a sudden, sharp sound:
The branch cracked under the weight of the snow.
3.
to make a sudden, sharp sound in or as if in breaking; snap:
The whip cracked.
4.
(of the voice) to break abruptly and discordantly, especially into an upper register, as because of weariness or emotion.
5.
to fail; give way:
His confidence cracked under the strain.
6.
to succumb or break down, especially under severe psychological pressure, torture, or the like:
They questioned him steadily for 24 hours before he finally cracked.
7.
Chemistry. to decompose as a result of being subjected to heat.
8.
Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. to brag; boast.
9.
Chiefly Scot. to chat; gossip.
verb (used with object)
10.
to cause to make a sudden sharp sound:
The driver cracked the whip.
11.
to break without complete separation of parts; break into fissures.
12.
to break with a sudden, sharp sound:
to crack walnuts.
13.
to strike and thereby make a sharp noise:
The boxer cracked his opponent on the jaw.
14.
to induce or cause to be stricken with sorrow or emotion; affect deeply.
15.
to utter or tell:
to crack jokes.
16.
to cause to make a cracking sound:
to crack one's knuckles.
17.
to damage, weaken, etc.:
The new evidence against him cracked his composure.
18.
to make mentally unsound.
19.
to make (the voice) harsh or unmanageable.
20.
to solve; decipher:
to crack a murder case.
21.
Informal. to break into (a safe, vault, etc.).
22.
Chemistry. to subject to the process of cracking, as in the distillation of petroleum.
23.
Informal. to open and drink (a bottle of wine, liquor, beer, etc.).
noun
24.
a break without complete separation of parts; fissure.
25.
a slight opening, as between boards in a floor or wall, or between a door and its doorpost.
26.
a sudden, sharp noise, as of something breaking.
27.
the snap of or as of a whip.
28.
a resounding blow:
He received a terrific crack on the head when the branch fell.
29.
Informal. a witty or cutting remark; wisecrack.
30.
a break or change in the flow or tone of the voice.
31.
Informal. opportunity; chance; try:
Give him first crack at the new job.
32.
a flaw or defect.
33.
Also called rock. Slang. pellet-size pieces of highly purified cocaine, prepared with other ingredients for smoking, and known to be especially potent and addicting.
34.
Masonry. check1 (def 41).
35.
a mental defect or deficiency.
36.
a shot, as with a rifle:
At the first crack, the deer fell.
37.
a moment; instant:
He was on his feet again in a crack.
38.
Slang. a burglary, especially an instance of housebreaking.
39.
Chiefly British. a person or thing that excels in some respect.
40.
Slang: Vulgar. the vulva.
41.
Chiefly Scot. conversation; chat.
42.
British Dialect. boasting; braggadocio.
43.
Archaic. a burglar.
adjective
44.
first-rate; excellent:
a crack shot.
adverb
45.
with a cracking sound.
Verb phrases
46.
crack down, to take severe or stern measures, especially in enforcing obedience to laws or regulations:
The police are starting to crack down on local drug dealers.
47.
crack off, to cause (a piece of hot glass) to fall from a blowpipe or punty.
48.
crack on, Nautical.
  1. (of a sailing vessel) to sail in high winds under sails that would normally be furled.
  2. (of a power vessel) to advance at full speed in heavy weather.
49.
crack up, Informal.
  1. to suffer a mental or emotional breakdown.
  2. to crash, as in an automobile or airplane:
    He skidded into the telephone pole and cracked up.
  3. to wreck an automobile, airplane, or other vehicle.
  4. to laugh or to cause to laugh unrestrainedly:
    That story about the revolving door really cracked me up. Ed cracked up, too, when he heard it.
Idioms
50.
crack a book, Informal. to open a book in order to study or read:
He hardly ever cracked a book.
51.
crack a smile, Informal. to smile.
52.
crack wise, Slang. to wisecrack:
We tried to be serious, but he was always cracking wise.
53.
fall through the cracks, to be overlooked, missed, or neglected:
In any inspection process some defective materials will fall through the cracks.
Also, slip between the cracks.
54.
get cracking, Informal.
  1. to begin moving or working; start:
    Let's get cracking on these dirty dishes!
  2. to work or move more quickly.
Origin
before 1000; Middle English crak(k)en (v.), crak (noun), Old English cracian to resound; akin to German krachen, Dutch kraken (v.), and German Krach, Dutch krak (noun)
Related forms
crackable, adjective
crackless, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for cracking
  • My composite deck is cracking and splitting around the screws.
  • Then anon they heard cracking and crying of thunder, that them thought the place should all to drive.
  • Intellectuals splitting hairs seem wildly inappropriate when killers are cracking heads.
  • He hadn't finished speaking when a cracking sound occurred.
  • Rain soon began to play havoc with the new clamps, swelling the iron and cracking the marble.
  • Sure, laptops and cell phones were more prevalent, but there were plenty of people cracking spines during their layovers.
  • Adsorption is usually performed with engineered zeolites today in hydrocarbon cracking.
  • But when silicon absorbs charge, it swells to four times its original volume, cracking after a few charging cycles.
  • On the one hand, stress corrosion cracking occurred in the reaction layer.
  • Of course as soon as the software is created, people will start working on cracking it.
British Dictionary definitions for cracking

cracking

/ˈkrækɪŋ/
adjective
1.
(prenominal) (informal) fast; vigorous (esp in the phrase a cracking pace)
2.
(informal) get cracking, to start doing something quickly or do something with increased speed
adverb, adjective
3.
(Brit, informal) first-class; excellent: a cracking good match
noun
4.
the process in which molecules are cracked, esp the oil-refining process in which heavy oils are broken down into hydrocarbons of lower molecular weight by heat or catalysis See also catalytic cracker

crack

/kræk/
verb
1.
to break or cause to break without complete separation of the parts: the vase was cracked but unbroken
2.
to break or cause to break with a sudden sharp sound; snap: to crack a nut
3.
to make or cause to make a sudden sharp sound: to crack a whip
4.
to cause (the voice) to change tone or become harsh or (of the voice) to change tone, esp to a higher register; break
5.
(informal) to fail or cause to fail
6.
to yield or cause to yield: to crack under torture
7.
(transitive) to hit with a forceful or resounding blow
8.
(transitive) to break into or force open: to crack a safe
9.
(transitive) to solve or decipher (a code, problem, etc)
10.
(transitive) (informal) to tell (a joke, etc)
11.
to break (a molecule) into smaller molecules or radicals by the action of heat, as in the distillation of petroleum
12.
(transitive) to open (esp a bottle) for drinking: let's crack another bottle
13.
(intransitive) (Scot & Northern English, dialect) to chat; gossip
14.
(transitive) (informal) to achieve (esp in the phrase crack it)
15.
(transitive) (Austral, informal) to find or catch: to crack a wave in surfing
16.
(informal) crack a smile, to break into a smile
17.
(Austral & NZ, informal) crack hardy, crack hearty, to disguise one's discomfort, etc; put on a bold front
18.
(informal) crack the whip, to assert one's authority, esp to put people under pressure to work harder
noun
19.
a sudden sharp noise
20.
a break or fracture without complete separation of the two parts: a crack in the window
21.
a narrow opening or fissure
22.
(informal) a resounding blow
23.
a physical or mental defect; flaw
24.
a moment or specific instant: the crack of day
25.
a broken or cracked tone of voice, as a boy's during puberty
26.
(often foll by at) (informal) an attempt; opportunity to try: he had a crack at the problem
27.
(slang) a gibe; wisecrack; joke
28.
(slang) a person that excels
29.
(Scot & Northern English, dialect) a talk; chat
30.
(slang) a processed form of cocaine hydrochloride used as a stimulant. It is highly addictive
31.
(informal, mainly Irish) Also craic. fun; informal entertainment: the crack was great in here last night
32.
(obsolete, slang) a burglar or burglary
33.
crack of dawn
  1. the very instant that the sun rises
  2. very early in the morning
34.
(informal) a fair crack of the whip, a fair chance or opportunity
35.
crack of doom, doomsday; the end of the world; the Day of Judgment
adjective
36.
(prenominal) (slang) first-class; excellent: a crack shot
Word Origin
Old English cracian; related to Old High German krahhōn, Dutch kraken, Sanskrit gárjati he roars
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cracking
adj.

"excellent," colloquial from 1830s, from present participle of crack (v.).

crack

v.

Old English cracian "make a sharp noise," from Proto-Germanic *krakojan (cf. Middle Dutch craken, Dutch kraken, German krachen), probably imitative. Related: Cracked; cracking. To crack a smile is from 1840s; to crack the whip in the figurative sense is from 1940s.

n.

"split, opening," 14c., from crack (v.). Meaning "try, attempt" first attested 1836, probably a hunting metaphor, from slang sense of "fire a gun." Meaning "rock cocaine" is first attested 1985. The superstition that it is bad luck to step on sidewalk cracks has been traced to c.1890. Adjectival meaning in "top-notch, superior" is slang from 1793 (e.g. a crack shot).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cracking in Science
cracking
  (krāk'ĭng)   
The process of breaking down complex chemical compounds by heating them. Sometimes a catalyst is added to lower the amount of heat needed for the reaction. Cracking is used especially for breaking petroleum molecules into shorter molecules and to extract low-boiling fractions, such as gasoline, from petroleum. See also hydrocracking.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for cracking

cracking

adjective

Excellent; first-rate: a cracking meal

adverb

Very: a cracking good meal

noun

: Ragging, bagging, snapping, and cracking, these are all word games teens use as a way of competing with one another (1990s+ Teenagers) (1830+)

Related Terms

get cracking


crack

noun
  1. A try; attempt; shot: It looks impossible, but I'll take a crack at it (1836+)
  2. A brief, funny, pungent, and often malicious remark; wisecrack: One more crack like that and I'm going to sock you (1725+)
  3. The vulva; cunt (unknown date, but very old)
  4. The deep crease between the buttocks (unknown date, but very old)
  5. (also crack cocaine) Cocaine freebase, a very pure crystalline cocaine intended for smoking rather than inhalation; coke: Crack's low price and quick payoff make it especially alluring to teenagers (1985+ Narcotics)
verb
  1. To open a safe or vault by force (1830s+)
  2. To go uninvited to a party; crash (1950s+)
  3. To gain admittance to some desired category or milieu: He finally cracked the best-seller list (1950s+)
  4. To solve; reveal the secret of: They never cracked the case (1930s+)
  5. (also crack up) To suffer an emotional or mental collapse; go into hysteria, depression, etc: After six months of that it's a wonder she didn't crack (1880s+)
  6. To break down and give information, or to confess, after intense interrogation: Buggsy cracked and spilled everything (1850+)
  7. To speak; talk; make remarks: Listen, Ben, quit cracking dumb (1315+)
Related Terms

fall between the cracks, give something a shot, have a crack at something, wisecrack

[all senses are ultimately echoic; narcotics sense fr the sound of breaking crystals or the cracking sound the crystals make when smoked]


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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cracking in Technology
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Idioms and Phrases with cracking
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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