noun Masonry.
the stepping back of the ends of courses successively from bottom to top in an unfinished wall to facilitate resumption of work or bonding with an intersecting wall.

1890–95; rack1 + -ing1

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1 [rak]
a framework of bars, wires, or pegs on which articles are arranged or deposited: a clothes rack; a luggage rack.
a fixture containing several tiered shelves, often affixed to a wall: a book rack; a spice rack.
a spreading framework set on a wagon for carrying hay, straw, or the like, in large loads.
a wooden frame of triangular shape within which the balls are arranged before play.
the balls so arranged: He took aim at the rack.
a bar, with teeth on one of its sides, adapted to engage with the teeth of a pinion (rack and pinion) or the like, as for converting circular into rectilinear motion or vice versa.
a bar having a series of notches engaging with a pawl or the like.
a former instrument of torture consisting of a framework on which a victim was tied, often spread-eagled, by the wrists and ankles, to be slowly stretched by spreading the parts of the framework.
a cause or state of intense suffering of body or mind.
torment; anguish.
violent strain.
a pair of antlers.
Slang. a bed, cot, or bunk: I spent all afternoon in the rack.
verb (used with object)
to torture; distress acutely; torment: His body was racked with pain.
to strain in mental effort: to rack one's brains.
to strain by physical force or violence.
to strain beyond what is normal or usual.
to stretch the body of (a person) in torture by means of a rack.
Nautical. to seize (two ropes) together side by side.
Verb phrases
rack out, Slang. to go to bed; go to sleep: I racked out all afternoon.
rack up,
Pool. to put (the balls) in a rack.
Informal. to tally, accumulate, or amass as an achievement or score: The corporation racked up the greatest profits in its history.

1250–1300; Middle English rakke, rekke (noun) < Middle Dutch rac, rec, recke; compare Middle Low German reck, German Reck

rackingly, adverb

racked, wracked, wreaked, wrecked.

7. torture, pain, agony, tribulation, ordeal. 12. See torment.


3 [rak]
the fast pace of a horse in which the legs move in lateral pairs but not simultaneously.
verb (used without object)
(of horses) to move in a rack.

1570–80; perhaps variant of rock2


4 [rak]
Also called cloud rack. a group of drifting clouds.
verb (used without object)
to drive or move, especially before the wind.
Also, wrack.

1350–1400; Middle English rak, reck(e); origin uncertain

racked, wracked, wreaked, wrecked.


5 [rak]
verb (used with object)
to draw off (wine, cider, etc.) from the lees.

1425–75; late Middle English < Old French; compare obsolete French raqué (of wine) pressed from the dregs of grapes

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To racking
World English Dictionary
rack1 (ræk)
1.  a framework for holding, carrying, or displaying a specific load or object: a plate rack; a hat rack; a hay rack; a luggage rack
2.  a toothed bar designed to engage a pinion to form a mechanism that will interconvert rotary and rectilinear motions
3.  a framework fixed to an aircraft for carrying bombs, rockets, etc
4.  the rack an instrument of torture that stretched the body of the victim
5.  a cause or state of mental or bodily stress, suffering, etc; anguish; torment (esp in the phrase on the rack)
6.  (US), (Canadian) in pool, snooker, etc
 a.  the triangular frame used to arrange the balls for the opening shot
 b.  Brit equivalent: frame the balls so grouped
7.  to torture on the rack
8.  Also: wrack to cause great stress or suffering to: guilt racked his conscience
9.  Also: wrack to strain or shake (something) violently, as by great physical force: the storm racked the town
10.  to place or arrange in or on a rack: to rack bottles of wine
11.  to move (parts of machinery or a mechanism) using a toothed rack
12.  to raise (rents) exorbitantly; rack-rent
13.  rack one's brains to strain in mental effort, esp to remember something or to find the solution to a problem
[C14 rekke, probably from Middle Dutch rec framework; related to Old High German recchen to stretch, Old Norse rekja to spread out]

rack2 (ræk)
destruction; wreck (obsolete except in the phrase go to rack and ruin)
[C16: variant of wrack1]

rack3 (ræk)
another word for single-foot, a gait of the horse
[C16: perhaps based on rock²]

rack4 (ræk)
1.  a group of broken clouds moving in the wind
2.  (intr) (of clouds) to be blown along by the wind
[Old English wrǣc what is driven; related to Gothic wraks persecutor, Swedish vrak wreckage]

rack5 (ræk)
1.  to clear (wine, beer, etc) as by siphoning it off from the dregs
2.  to fill a container with (beer, wine, etc)
[C15: from Old Provençal arraca, from raca dregs of grapes after pressing]

rack6 (ræk)
the neck or rib section of mutton, pork, or veal
[Old English hrace; related to Old High German rahho, Danish harke, Swedish harkla to clear one's throat]

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

"frame with bars," c.1300, possibly from M.Du. rec "framework," related to recken "stretch out," cognate with O.E. reccan "to stretch out," from P.Gmc. *rakjanan (cf. O.N. rekja, O.Fris. reza, O.H.G. recchen, Ger. recken, Goth. uf-rakjan "to stretch out"). The verb meaning "to sleep" is teen-ager slang
from 1960s (rack was Navy slang for "bed" in 1940s). Meaning "instrument of torture" first recorded mid-15c. (verb meaning "to torture on the rack" is from early 15c.), perhaps from Ger. rackbank, originally an implement for stretching leather, etc. Fig. sense of "agony" is from 1590s. Mechanical meaning "toothed bar" is from 1797 (see pinion). Meaning "set of antlers" is first attested 1945, Amer.Eng.; hence slang sense of "a woman's breasts" (especially if large), c.1980s. Off the rack in ref. to clothing is from 1962. Rack up "register accumulate, achieve" is first attested 1961, probably from method of keeping score in pool halls.

"gait of a horse," 1530 (implied in racking), perhaps from Fr. racquassure "racking of a horse in his pace," of unknown origin. Or perhaps a variant of rock (v.1).

"clouds driven before the wind," c.1300, also "rush of wind, collision, crash," possibly from O.E. racu "cloud," reinforced by O.N. rek "wreckage, jetsam," or by influence of O.E. wræc "something driven." Originally a northern word, perhaps from an unrecorded Scand. cognate of O.E. racu. Often
confused with wrack (q.v.), especially in phrase rack and ruin (1599). The distinction is that rack is "driven clouds;" wrack is "seaweed cast up on shore."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
In this month's column, we'll discuss some strategies for that nerve-racking
The nerve-racking ride that ensued foreshadowed his current wild adventure.
Ultimately, editing turns out to be even more nerve-racking than recording.
Its emotional tension is nerve-racking, its psychological insight convincing.
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