- Machinery. any of several types of arms or levers for imparting rotary or oscillatory motion to a rotating shaft, one end of the crank being fixed to the shaft and the other end receiving reciprocating motion from a hand, connecting rod, etc.
- Informal. an ill-tempered, grouchy person.
- an unbalanced person who is overzealous in the advocacy of a private cause.
- an eccentric or whimsical notion.
- a strikingly clever turn of speech or play on words.
- Archaic. a bend; turn.
- Slang. the nasal decongestant propylhexedrine, used illicitly for its euphoric effects.
- Automotive Slang. a crankshaft.
- to bend into or make in the shape of a crank.
- to furnish with a crank.
- Machinery. to rotate (a shaft) by means of a crank.
- to start (an internal-combustion engine) by turning the crankshaft manually or by means of a small motor.
- to start the engine of (a motor vehicle) by turning the crankshaft manually.
- to turn a crank, as in starting an automobile engine.
- Obsolete. to turn and twist; zigzag.
- unstable; shaky; unsteady.
- of, relating to, or by an unbalanced or overzealous person: a crank phone call; crank mail.
- British Dialect. cranky1(def 5).
- crank down, to cause to diminish or terminate: the president's efforts to crank down inflation.
- crank in/into, to incorporate as an integral part: Overhead is cranked into the retail cost.
- crank out, to make or produce in a mass-production, effortless, or mechanical way: She's able to crank out one best-selling novel after another.
- crank up, Informal.
- to get started or ready: The theater season is cranking up with four benefit performances.
- to stimulate, activate, or produce: to crank up enthusiasm for a new product.
- to increase one's efforts, output, etc.: Industry began to crank up after the new tax incentives became law.
Origin of crank1
- a crank vessel.
Origin of crank2
- lively; high-spirited.
Origin of crank3
- a device for communicating motion or for converting reciprocating motion into rotary motion or vice versa. It consists of an arm projecting from a shaft, often with a second member attached to it parallel to the shaft
- Also called: crank handle, starting handle a handle incorporating a crank, used to start an engine or motor
- an eccentric or odd person, esp someone who stubbornly maintains unusual views
- US and Canadiana bad-tempered person
- (tr) to rotate (a shaft) by means of a crank
- (tr) to start (an engine, motor, etc) by means of a crank handle
- (tr) to bend, twist, or make into the shape of a crank
- (intr) obsolete to twist or wind
- (of a sailing vessel) easily keeled over by the wind; tender
Word Origin and History for cranker
Old English *cranc, implied in crancstæf "a weaver's instrument," crencestre "female weaver, spinster," from Proto-Germanic base *krank-, and related to crincan "to bend, yield" (see crinkle, cringe). English retains the literal sense of the ancient root, while German and Dutch krank "sick," formerly "weak, small," is a figurative use.
The sense of "an eccentric person," especially one who is irrationally fixated, is first recorded 1833, said to be from the crank of a barrel organ, which makes it play the same tune over and over; but more likely a back-formation from cranky (q.v.). Meaning "methamphetamine" attested by 1989.
1590s, "to zig-zag," from crank (n.). Meaning "to turn a crank" is first attested 1908, with reference to automobile engines. Related: Cranked; cranking.