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From Old English cranc, from Proto-Germanic *krangaz, *krankaz. Cognate with German krank (sick), Dutch kreng (corpse), krank-.



crank (comparative cranker, superlative crankest)

  1. (slang) strange, weird, odd
  2. sick; unwell; infirm
  3. (nautical, of a ship) Liable to capsize because of poorly stowed cargo or insufficient ballast.
    • 1833, Edgar Allan Poe, MS. Found in a Bottle
      The stowage was clumsily done, and the vessel consequently crank.
  4. Full of spirit; brisk; lively; sprightly; overconfident; opinionated.
    • Udall (Can we date this quote?)
      He who was, a little before, bedrid, [] was now crank and lusty.
    • Mrs. Stowe (Can we date this quote?)
      If you strong electioners did not think you were among the elect, you would not be so crank about it.



crank (plural cranks)

  1. A bent piece of an axle or shaft, or an attached arm perpendicular, or nearly so, to the end of a shaft or wheel, used to impart a rotation to a wheel or other mechanical device; also used to change circular into reciprocating motion, or reciprocating into circular motion.(Can we add an example for this sense?)
  2. The act of converting power into motion, by turning a crankshaft.
    Yes, a crank was all it needed to start.
  3. (archaic) Any bend, turn, or winding, as of a passage.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Spenser:
      So many turning cranks these have, so many crooks.
  4. (informal) An ill-tempered or nasty person
    Billy-Bob is a nasty old crank! He chased my cat away.
  5. A twist or turn of the mind; caprice; whim; crotchet; also, a fit of temper or passion.
    • Carlyle (Can we date this quote?)
      Violent of temper; subject to sudden cranks.
  6. (informal, Britain, dated in US) A person who is considered strange or odd by others. They may behave in unconventional ways.
    John is a crank because he talks to himself.
    • 1882 January 14, in Pall Mall Gazette:
      Persons whom the Americans since Guiteau’s trial have begun to designate as ‘cranks’—that is to say, persons of disordered mind, in whom the itch of notoriety supplies the lack of any higher ambition.
  7. (informal) An advocate of a pseudoscience movement.
    That crank next door thinks he’s created cold fusion in his garage.
  8. (US, slang) methamphetamine.
    Danny got abscesses from shooting all that bathtub crank.
  9. (rare) A twist or turn in speech; a conceit consisting in a change of the form or meaning of a word.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Milton:
      Quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles.
  10. (obsolete) A sick person; an invalid.
    • Burton (Can we date this quote?)
      Thou art a counterfeit crank, a cheater.
  11. (slang) penis.
    • 2013, Reggie Chesterfield, Scoundrel, page 57:
      It was going to be hard not to blow with a girl like her sucking on his crank.



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


crank (third-person singular simple present cranks, present participle cranking, simple past and past participle cranked)

  1. (transitive) To turn by means of a crank.
    Motorists had to crank their engine by hand.
  2. (intransitive) To turn a crank.
    He's been cranking all day and yet it refuses to crank.
  3. (intransitive, of a crank or similar) To turn.
    He's been cranking all day and yet it refuses to crank.
  4. (transitive) To cause to spin via other means, as though turned by a crank.
    I turn the key and crank the engine; yet it doesn't turn over
    Crank it up!
  5. (intransitive) To act in a cranky manner; to behave unreasonably and irritably, especially through complaining.
    Quit cranking about your spilt milk!
  6. (intransitive) To be running at a high level of output or effort.
    By one hour into the shift, the boys were really cranking.
    • 2009, Carol Baroudi, Jeffrey Hill, Arnold Reinhold, Green IT For Dummies:
      Better computers use variable speed fans so they run at top speed only when the computer is really cranking
    • 2009, Mike Edison, I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, ...:
      When we were playing at the top of our ability and really cranking, the whole thing could sound like a jet plane taking off in the club.
    • 2011, P. L. Nelson, The Incessant Voice of War: The Black Rose Conspiracies, page 64:
      expected that the NVA and VC were in a position to dish out what they're dishing out, and the rumor mill is really cranking overtime.
  7. (intransitive, dated) To run with a winding course; to double; to crook; to wind and turn.

Derived terms[edit]