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[krangk] /kræŋk/
adjective, British Dialect.
lively; high-spirited.
Origin of crank3
1350-1400; Middle English cranke, of obscure origin
Related forms
crankly, adverb
crankness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for crankly


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
  1. an eccentric or odd person, esp someone who stubbornly maintains unusual views
  2. (US & Canadian) a bad-tempered person
(transitive) to rotate (a shaft) by means of a crank
(transitive) to start (an engine, motor, etc) by means of a crank handle
(transitive) to bend, twist, or make into the shape of a crank
(intransitive) (obsolete) to twist or wind
See also crank up
Word Origin
Old English cranc; related to Middle Low German krunke wrinkle, Dutch krinkelcrinkle


(of a sailing vessel) easily keeled over by the wind; tender
Word Origin
C17: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to crank1
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
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Word Origin and History for crankly



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for crankly



  1. Bogus; false: crank letters/ crank phone calls
  2. Pertaining to methamphetamine: It's connected to a crank factory, and the case goes to New Jersey, so the FBI is all over it


  1. An eccentric person, esp one who is irrationally fixated; nut, freak: That crank wants a yogurt shampoo/ All kinds of cranks took credit for the murder (1881+)
  2. A crabby person
  3. Methamphetamine, a stimulant; speed: Ain't no calories in crank (1960s+ Narcotics)

[perhaps fr the crank of a barrel organ, by which one can play the same tune over and over again; applied by Donn Piatt to the publisher Horace Greeley]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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