crank up Unabridged


1 [krangk]
Machinery. any of several types of arms or levers for imparting rotary or oscillatory motion to a rotating shaft, one end of the crank being fixed to the shaft and the other end receiving reciprocating motion from a hand, connecting rod, etc.
Informal. an ill-tempered, grouchy person.
an unbalanced person who is overzealous in the advocacy of a private cause.
an eccentric or whimsical notion.
a strikingly clever turn of speech or play on words.
Archaic. a bend; turn.
Slang. the nasal decongestant propylhexedrine, used illicitly for its euphoric effects.
Automotive Slang. a crankshaft.
verb (used with object)
to bend into or make in the shape of a crank.
to furnish with a crank.
Machinery. to rotate (a shaft) by means of a crank.
to start (an internal-combustion engine) by turning the crankshaft manually or by means of a small motor.
to start the engine of (a motor vehicle) by turning the crankshaft manually.
verb (used without object)
to turn a crank, as in starting an automobile engine.
Obsolete. to turn and twist; zigzag.
unstable; shaky; unsteady.
of, pertaining to, or by an unbalanced or overzealous person: a crank phone call; crank mail.
British Dialect, cranky1 ( def 5 ).
Verb phrases
crank down, to cause to diminish or terminate: the president's efforts to crank down inflation.
crank in/into, to incorporate as an integral part: Overhead is cranked into the retail cost.
crank out, to make or produce in a mass-production, effortless, or mechanical way: She's able to crank out one best-selling novel after another.
crank up, Informal.
to get started or ready: The theater season is cranking up with four benefit performances.
to stimulate, activate, or produce: to crank up enthusiasm for a new product.
to increase one's efforts, output, etc.: Industry began to crank up after the new tax incentives became law.

before 1000; Middle English cranke, Old English cranc-, in crancstǣf crank (see staff1)

crankless, adjective
noncranking, adjective
uncranked, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
crank1 (kræŋk)
1.  a device for communicating motion or for converting reciprocating motion into rotary motion or vice versa. It consists of an arm projecting from a shaft, often with a second member attached to it parallel to the shaft
2.  crank handle, Also called: starting handle a handle incorporating a crank, used to start an engine or motor
3.  informal
 a.  an eccentric or odd person, esp someone who stubbornly maintains unusual views
 b.  (US), (Canadian) a bad-tempered person
4.  (tr) to rotate (a shaft) by means of a crank
5.  (tr) to start (an engine, motor, etc) by means of a crank handle
6.  (tr) to bend, twist, or make into the shape of a crank
7.  obsolete (intr) to twist or wind
[Old English cranc; related to Middle Low German krunke wrinkle, Dutch krinkelcrinkle]

crank or cranky2 (kræŋk)
(of a sailing vessel) easily keeled over by the wind; tender
[C17: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to crank1]
cranky or cranky2
[C17: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to crank1]

crank up
1.  to increase (loudness, output, etc): he cranked up his pace
2.  to set in motion or invigorate: news editors have to crank up tired reporters
3.  (intr, adverb) to inject a narcotic drug

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. cranc- preserved only in crancstæf "a weaver's instrument," from P.Gmc. base *krank-, and related to crincan "to bend, yield." Eng. retains the literal sense of the ancient root, while Ger. and Du. krank "sick," formerly "weak, small," is a figurative use. The sense of "an eccentric person,"
especially one who is irrationally fixated, is first recorded 1833, said to be from the crank of a barrel organ, which makes it play the same tune over and over, but more likely a back-formation from cranky "cross-tempered, irritable" (1821), and evolving from earlier senses of "a twist or fanciful turn of speech" (1594) or "inaccessible hole or crevice" (1562). Popularized 1881 when it was applied to Horace Greeley during Guiteau's trial. The verb meaning "turning a crank" is first attested 1908, with reference to automobile engines.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

crank up

  1. Get started, as in The theater season is cranking up with four benefit performances. This expression transfers the literal sense of crank, "operate a motor by turning a crank," to starting any activity. [Slang; 1930s]

  2. Stimulate or intensify one's efforts. For example, We've got to crank up enthusiasm for this new product, or Close to the election the campaign really cranked up. [Slang; mid-1900s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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