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cracker

[krak-er]
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noun
  1. a thin, crisp biscuit.
  2. a firecracker.
  3. Also called cracker bonbon. a small paper roll used as a party favor, that usually contains candy, trinkets, etc., and that pops when pulled sharply at one or both ends.
  4. (initial capital letter) Slang: Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive. a native or inhabitant of Georgia or Florida (used as a nickname).
  5. Slang: Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a white person in the South, especially a poor white living in some rural parts of the southeastern U.S.
  6. Slang. black hat(def 2).
  7. snapper(def 5).
  8. braggart; boaster.
  9. a person or thing that cracks.
  10. a chemical reactor used for cracking.Compare catalytic cracking, fractionator.
adjective
  1. crackers, Informal. wild; crazy: They went crackers over the new styles.

Origin of cracker

1400–50; late Middle English craker. See crack, -er1; (defs 4, 5) perhaps originally in sense “braggart,” applied to frontiersmen of the southern American colonies in the 1760s, though subsequently given other interpretations (cf. corn-cracker); for crackers “crazy,” cf. cracked, -ers

Usage note

The term cracker is used as a neutral nickname by inhabitants of Georgia and Florida; it is a positive term of self-reference. But when the nickname is used by outsiders, it is usually with disparaging intent and perceived as insulting by Georgians and Floridians. Cracker is always disparaging and offensive when used to refer to a poor white person in the South; the word in this sense often implies that the person is regarded as ignorant or uneducated. When used by black people, cracker can refer to a Southern white racist, not necessarily poor or rural. See also Cracker State.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for crackers

crackers

adjective
  1. (postpositive) British a slang word for insane

cracker

noun
  1. a decorated cardboard tube that emits a bang when pulled apart, releasing a toy, a joke, or a paper hat
  2. short for firecracker
  3. a thin crisp biscuit, usually unsweetened
  4. a person or thing that cracks
  5. US another word for poor White offensive
  6. British slang a thing or person of notable qualities or abilities
  7. not worth a cracker Australian and NZ informal worthless; useless
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

Word Origin and History for crackers

cracker

n.1

mid-15c., "hard wafer," but the specific application to a thin, crisp biscuit is 1739; agent noun from crack (v.). Cracker-barrel (adj.) "emblematic of down-home ways and views" is from 1877.

cracker

n.2

Southern U.S. derogatory term for "poor, white trash" (1766), probably from mid-15c. crack "to boast" (e.g. not what it's cracked up to be), originally a Scottish word. Cf. Latin crepare "to rattle, crack, creak," with a secondary figurative sense of "boast of, prattle, make ado about."

I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia, who often change their places of abode. [1766, G. Cochrane]

But DARE compares corn-cracker "poor white farmer" (1835, U.S. Midwest colloquial). Especially of Georgians by 1808, though often extended to residents of northern Florida. Another name in mid-19c. use was sand-hiller "poor white in Georgia or South Carolina."

Not very essentially different is the condition of a class of people living in the pine-barrens nearest the coast [of South Carolina], as described to me by a rice-planter. They seldom have any meat, he said, except they steal hogs, which belong to the planters, or their negroes, and their chief diet is rice and milk. "They are small, gaunt, and cadaverous, and their skin is just the color of the sand-hills they live on. They are quite incapable of applying themselves steadily to any labor, and their habits are very much like those of the old Indians." [Frederick Law Olmsted, "A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States," 1856]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper