rack

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See also: Rack, RACK, and räck

English[edit]

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Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English rakke, rekke, from Middle Dutch rac, recke, rec (Dutch rek), see rekken.

Noun[edit]

rack (plural racks)

  1. A series of one or more shelves, stacked one above the other
  2. Any of various kinds of frame for holding luggage or other objects on a vehicle or vessel.
    Synonym: luggage rack
  3. (historical) A device, incorporating a ratchet, used to torture victims by stretching them beyond their natural limits.
  4. (nautical) A piece or frame of wood, having several sheaves, through which the running rigging passes.
    Synonym: rack block
  5. (nautical, slang) A bunk.
    • 2008, Byron L. Smith, Prescription Music, →ISBN, page 33:
      Chief Stevens approached my rack and repeatedly ordered me to vacate my rack and report to the working party.
    • 2010, Herb Brewer, Chronicles of a Marine Rifleman: Vietnam, 1965-1966, →ISBN, page 171:
      By the time I had unpacked my sea bag, made my rack, and finished a good long hot shower, it was late in the evening.
    • 2016, Cpl. Osborn R. E, Like Killing Rats, →ISBN:
      I took off my helmet, sat it gently down at the head of my rack on the wooden deck, plopped my butt down on my rack again, and began taking off my stateside assbusting boots.
  6. (nautical, by extension, slang, uncountable) Sleep.
  7. A distaff.
  8. (mechanical engineering) A bar with teeth on its face or edge, to work with those of a gearwheel, pinion#, or worm, which is to drive or be driven by it.
  9. (mechanical engineering) A bar with teeth on its face or edge, to work with a pawl as a ratchet allowing movement in one direction only, used for example in a handbrake or crossbow.
  10. A cranequin, a mechanism including a rack, pinion and pawl, providing both mechanical advantage and a ratchet, used to bend and cock a crossbow.
  11. A set of antlers (as on deer, moose or elk).
  12. A cut of meat involving several adjacent ribs.
    I bought a rack of lamb at the butcher's yesterday.
  13. (billiards, snooker) A hollow triangle used for aligning the balls at the start of a game.
  14. (slang, vulgar) A woman's breasts.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:breasts
  15. (climbing, caving) A friction device for abseiling, consisting of a frame with five or more metal bars, around which the rope is threaded.
    rappel rack
    abseil rack
  16. (climbing, slang) A climber's set of equipment for setting up protection and belays, consisting of runners, slings, carabiners, nuts, Friends, etc.
    I used almost a full rack on the second pitch.
  17. A grate on which bacon is laid.
  18. (obsolete) That which is extorted; exaction.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir E. Sandys to this entry?)
  19. (algebra) A set with a distributive binary operation whose result is unique.
  20. (Britain, slang) A thousand pounds (£1,000), especially if proceeds of crime
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

rack (third-person singular simple present racks, present participle racking, simple past and past participle racked)

  1. To place in or hang on a rack.
  2. To torture (someone) on the rack.
    • 1563, John Foxe, Actes and Monuments
      He was racked and miserably tormented.
    • 2011, Thomas Penn, Winter King, Penguin 2012, p. 228:
      As the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt later recalled, his father, Henry VII's jewel-house keeper Henry Wyatt, had been racked on the orders of Richard III, who had sat there and watched.
  3. To cause (someone) to suffer pain.
  4. (figuratively) To stretch or strain; to harass, or oppress by extortion.
  5. (billiards, snooker, pool) To put the balls into the triangular rack and set them in place on the table.
    Synonym: rack up
  6. (slang, transitive) To strike (a person) in the testicles.
  7. (firearms) To (manually) load (a round of ammunition) from the magazine or belt into firing position in an automatic or semiautomatic firearm.
  8. (firearms) To move the slide bar on a shotgun in order to chamber the next round.
  9. (mining) To wash (metals, ore, etc.) on a rack.
  10. (nautical) To bind together, as two ropes, with cross turns of yarn, marline, etc.
  11. (structural engineering) Tending to shear a structure (that is, force it to move in different directions at different points).
    Synonym: shear
    • 1977, Tuomi, Roger L.; Gromala, David S., “Racking Strength of Walls”, in USDA Forest Service Research Paper[1], number FPL 301:
      The racking strength of a wall system is defined in terms of its ability to resist horizon­tal inplane shear forces. The shear, or racking, forces which act on wail systems arise primarily from wind.
    Post-and-lintel construction racks easily.
Usage notes[edit]

In senses “torture” and “suffer pain”, frequently confused with wrack (destroy) (more rarely, wrack (wreckage)), both as stand-alone verb and in compounds.[1] In most uses, rack is correct, and wrack is incorrect.[2] Etymologically, nerve-racking (stressful), pain-racked, and rack one's brain, rack one's brains (think hard) are correct, while rack and ruin and storm-racked are incorrect, variants of wrack and ruin (complete destruction) and storm-wracked (wrecked by a storm).

Usage guidance differs: either prefer the etymologically correct term, prefer rack to (archaic) wrack, or use either. The etymologically correct forms are preferred by some style guides,[3] but the unetymological forms are well-established and in wide use, and other style guides simply consider them variant spellings.[4] Other style guides categorically ban wrack as archaic, suggesting modern synonyms like wreck, ruin, or destroy.[5] In some cases style guides are confused by the etymology, or feature unhistorical forms such as nerve-wracking.[6]

This confusion dates to Early Modern English in the 16th century (as in rack and ruin), and is presumably due to the influence of ⟨wr⟩ in words such as wreak, wreck, wrench, etc., which connote discomfort and torment.[7] Formally termed the graphaesthesia of the graphaestheme ⟨wr⟩, since identical sound /r/ to ⟨r⟩; compare with phonaesthesia.[8] Compare rapt/wrapt, and also ⟨gh⟩ as in ghost, ghastly, ghoul.

Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old English reċċan (to stretch out, extend).

Verb[edit]

rack (third-person singular simple present racks, present participle racking, simple past and past participle racked)

  1. To stretch a person's joints.
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English reken, from Old Norse reka (to be drifted, tost)[9]

The noun is from Middle English rak, rakke, from Middle English rek (drift; thing tossed ashore; jetsam), from the verb.

Verb[edit]

rack (third-person singular simple present racks, present participle racking, simple past and past participle racked)

  1. To drive; move; go forward rapidly; stir
  2. To fly, as vapour or broken clouds
Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

rack (uncountable)

  1. Thin, flying, broken clouds, or any portion of floating vapour in the sky.
    • 1669, Francis Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum or A Natural History in ten Centuries, page 32:
      The winds in the upper region, which move the clouds above, which we call the rack, [] pass without noise.
    • 1851, Charles Kingsley, Three Fishers
      And the night rack came rolling up.
    • 1607, William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV, scene 14
      Sometime we see a cloud that's dragonish ... That which is now a horse ... The rack dislimns, and makes it indistinct

Etymology 4[edit]

From Middle English rakken.

Verb[edit]

rack (third-person singular simple present racks, present participle racking, simple past and past participle racked)

  1. (brewing) To clarify, and thereby deter further fermentation of, beer, wine or cider by draining or siphoning it from the dregs.
    • 1631, [Francis Bacon], “(please specify |century=I to X)”, in Sylua Syluarum: Or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries. [], 3rd edition, London: [] VVilliam Rawley; [p]rinted by J[ohn] H[aviland] for William Lee [], OCLC 1044372886:
      It is in common practice to draw wine or beer from the lees (which we call racking), whereby it will clarify much the sooner.
Translations[edit]

Etymology 5[edit]

See rack (that which stretches), or rock (verb).

Verb[edit]

rack (third-person singular simple present racks, present participle racking, simple past and past participle racked)

  1. (of a horse) To amble fast, causing a rocking or swaying motion of the body; to pace.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Fuller to this entry?)

Noun[edit]

rack (plural racks)

  1. A fast amble.

Etymology 6[edit]

See wreck.

Noun[edit]

rack (plural racks)

  1. (obsolete) A wreck; destruction.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 7[edit]

Noun[edit]

rack (plural racks)

  1. (obsolete) A young rabbit, or its skin.
    • 1869 February 13, “Rabbit Skin”, in All the Year Round, page 247:
      Now, sir, you would say a skin is a skin, we say it is a ' whole,' or a 'half,' or a 'quarter,' or a 'rack,' or a 'sucker. Suckers are skins of infant rabbits, and of little value. Eight racks are equal to one whole.
    • 1879, Ure's Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines, page 380:
      The skin of a sucker is white, of a quarter, black and white striped, of a rack all black, and of a best all white.
    • 1882, Bees, rabbits, and pigeons; how to breed and how to rear them:
      Those would be of different shades of colour according to the time of year at which they were produced, those bred about May-day undergoing no change from their white colour, but from a white rack become a whole skin; []
    • 1892, Henry Poland, Fur-bearing Animals in Nature and in Commerce, page 289:
      Rabbit skins are sorted into wholes, halves, quarters, racks, and suckers, or very small skins.

Etymology 8[edit]

Noun[edit]

rack

  1. Alternative form of arak

References[edit]

  1. ^ Garner’s Modern American Usage
  2. ^ Charles Harrington Elster (2010) The Accidents of Style: Good Advice on How Not to Write Badly, pages 169–170: “In all other familiar contexts, the proper spelling is rack.”
  3. ^ rack/wrack”, The Mavens’ Word of the Day, April 20, 1998
  4. ^ Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, 1994:
    “Probably the most sensible attitude would be to ignore the etymologies of rack and wrack (which, of course, is exactly what most people do) and regard them simply as spelling variants of one word. If you choose to toe the line drawn by the commentators, however, you will want to write nerve-racking, rack one’s brains, storm-wracked, and for good measure wrack and ruin. Then you will have nothing to worry about being criticized for — except, of course, for using too many clichés.”
  5. ^ The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, 5th edition, “wrack”, 2015
  6. ^ The Associated Press (2015) The Associated Press Stylebook 2015, “wrack”
  7. ^ Kay, Christian J. and Wotherspoon, Irené. 2002. “Wreak, wrack, rack, and (w)ruin: the History of Some Confused Spellings”, in Sounds, Words, Texts and Change: Papers from 11 ICEHL, ed. by Teresa Fanego, Belen Mendez-Naya and Elena Seoane. Amsterdam: Benjamins, pp. 129–143.
  8. ^ Kay & Wotherspoon, 2002, p. 139 and footnotes 8 and 9, pp. 141–142
  9. ^ rack in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


Spanish[edit]

Noun[edit]

rack m (plural racks)

  1. rack