9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[krangk] /kræŋk/
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, relating 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.
  1. to get started or ready:
    The theater season is cranking up with four benefit performances.
  2. to stimulate, activate, or produce:
    to crank up enthusiasm for a new product.
  3. to increase one's efforts, output, etc.:
    Industry began to crank up after the new tax incentives became law.
Origin of crank1
before 1000; Middle English cranke, Old English cranc-, in crancstǣf crank (see staff1)
Related forms
crankless, adjective
noncranking, adjective
uncranked, adjective


[krangk] /kræŋk/
adjective, Nautical
Also, cranky. having a tendency to roll easily, as a boat or ship; tender (opposed to stiff).
a crank vessel.
1690-1700; probably to be identified with crank1, but sense developement unclear; cf. crank-sided


[krangk] /kræŋk/
adjective, British Dialect
lively; high-spirited.
1350-1400; Middle English cranke, of obscure origin
Related forms
crankly, adverb
crankness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for crank
  • With the turn of a crank, slowly a big iron door slid back, allowing the chimps access to their impromptu photo studio.
  • The patriarch is turning a metal crank mounted on the wall, winding up a cable.
  • My missive would be lost or tossed as a stray crank.
  • He can evidently crank out papers quickly and make quite a bit of money doing so.
  • Some cars have crank handles, or are powered by wood-burning stoves.
  • Another crank economic theory bites the dust when confronted with reality.
  • Crooks clearly doesn't know the difference between a legitimate information source and a crank's blog.
  • But only one is meant for people in the poorest regions of the world, and comes with a hand crank as an accessory.
  • It is one thing to do it in a lab, another to crank out this stuff by the pound or ton.
  • To make it work, they'll have to crank up the lasers, doubling their output compared to these initial experiments.
British Dictionary definitions for crank


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
Also called crank handle, starting handle. a handle incorporating a crank, used to start an engine or motor
  1. an eccentric or odd person, esp someone who stubbornly maintains unusual views
  2. (US & Canadian) a bad-tempered person
(transitive) to rotate (a shaft) by means of a crank
(transitive) to start (an engine, motor, etc) by means of a crank handle
(transitive) to bend, twist, or make into the shape of a crank
(intransitive) (obsolete) to twist or wind
See also crank up
Word Origin
Old English cranc; related to Middle Low German krunke wrinkle, Dutch krinkelcrinkle


(of a sailing vessel) easily keeled over by the wind; tender
Word Origin
C17: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to crank1
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 crank

Old English *cranc, implied in crancstæf "a weaver's instrument," crencestre "female weaver, spinster," from Proto-Germanic base *krank-, and related to crincan "to bend, yield" (see crinkle, cringe). English retains the literal sense of the ancient root, while German and Dutch 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 (q.v.). Meaning "methamphetamine" attested by 1989.


1590s, "to zig-zag," from crank (n.). Meaning "to turn a crank" is first attested 1908, with reference to automobile engines. Related: Cranked; cranking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for crank


  1. Bogus; false: crank letters/ crank phone calls
  2. Pertaining to methamphetamine: It's connected to a crank factory, and the case goes to New Jersey, so the FBI is all over it
  1. An eccentric person, esp one who is irrationally fixated; nut, freak: That crank wants a yogurt shampoo/ All kinds of cranks took credit for the murder (1881+)
  2. A crabby person
  3. Methamphetamine, a stimulant; speed: Ain't no calories in crank (1960s+ Narcotics)

[perhaps fr the crank of a barrel organ, by which one can play the same tune over and over again; applied by Donn Piatt to the publisher Horace Greeley]

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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crank in Technology

(Automotive slang) Verb used to describe the performance of a machine, especially sustained performance. "This box cranks (or, cranks at) about 6 megaflops, with a burst mode of twice that on vectorised operations."
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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