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See also: cran- and Cran


Etymology 1[edit]

From Goidelic. This etymology is incomplete. You can help Wiktionary by elaborating on the origins of this term.

Alternative forms[edit]


cran (plural crans or cran)

  1. (obsolete) A measure of herrings, either imprecise or sometimes legally specified. It has sometimes been about 37½ imperial gallons, or 750 herring on average.
    • 1800 Dec., Sir Richard Phillips, The Monthly magazine, Volume 10, No. 66, page 486:
      Very flattering indeed has been the success of the fishermen; and many boats have come in loaded, averaging thirty or forty crans each (every cran estimated at 1,000 herrings), and disposed of their cargoes at nine shillings per cran; but the price has been since raised to fifteen shillings.
    • 1938, Louis MacNeice, Bagpipe Music
      His brother caught three hundred cran when the seas were lavish, / Threw the bleeders back in the sea and went upon the parish.
    • 1960, Ewan MacColl, BBC radio ballad Singing the Fishing:
      [] And fish the knolls on the North Sea Holes
      And try your luck at the North Shields Gut
      With a catch of a hundred cran.
  2. (obsolete, rare, by extension) A barrel made to hold such a measure.

Etymology 2[edit]

(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


cran (plural crans)

  1. (music) An embellishment played on the lowest note of a chanter of a bagpipe, consisting of a series of grace notes produced by rapid sequential lifting of the fingers of the lower hand.




Deverbal of créner (to kern), from crenedes (notched), from Vulgar Latin *crinare, probably of Celtic/Gaulish origin, from Proto-Celtic *krini-, from Proto-Indo-European *krey- (to divide, separate).[1] Or, less likely, from Latin cernō (I separate), itself from the same root.[2]



cran m (plural crans)

  1. notch
  2. (firearms) safety catch
  3. (belt) hole
  4. (hair) wave
  5. (colloquial) guts, bottle, courage
    Ce garçon a du cran, pour oser sauter en parachute.
    This boy has guts, jumping with the parachute.
    • 1998, Ol Kainry (lyrics), “Agrévolution”, in Ce n’est que l’début, performed by Agression Verbale:
      Tu sais pourquoi on voit grand, depuis qu’on est grand, qu’on a du cran / C’est que la merde nous a pendu, on est adolescent / Cran d’arrêt en guise de porte bonheur
      (please add an English translation of this quote)

Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ cranny”, in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th edition, Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, →ISBN.
  2. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “cranny”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Further reading[edit]

Old English[edit]


From Proto-West Germanic *kranō.



cran m

  1. crane (bird)
    Se cran wæs standende on ānum sċancan.
    The crane was standing on one leg.
    Oft man ġehīerþ cranas lange ǣr hē hīe ġesiehþ.
    You often hear cranes long before you see them.
    Þā cranas wyrċaþ heora nest on ċiriċena belhūsum.
    The cranes make their nests in the bell towers of churches.



  • Middle English: crane, krane, cranne, craane, crone, craune
    • English: crane (see there for further descendants)
    • Scots: cran