crackhead

[ krak-hed ]
/ ˈkrækˌhɛd /

noun Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.

a habitual user of cocaine in the form of crack.

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Origin of crackhead

First recorded in 1985–90; crack (in the sense of “purified cocaine”) + head (in the sense “habitual user of a drug”)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

What does crackhead mean?

A crackhead is a slang term for someone who is addicted to or does a lot of the drug crack cocaine. The word is more generally used to insult someone considered to be acting like a crackhead, that is, wildly and stupidly.

Where does crackhead come from?

Crack is a form of cocaine that people smoke for a short but intense high.

During the 1980s–90s, the United States faced a crack cocaine epidemic. It was during this time that the slang word crack entered the mainstream lexicon. The slang crack is thought to come from the sound made when the drug is warmed in preparation for smoking. Head, here is used as a combining form to indicate a preoccupation.

Crackhead, for a habitual user of crack, is recorded in the 1980s, including in a Time magazine article about the epidemic.

Because the behavior of people using crack cocaine can be erratic and disruptive, crackhead became slang for “stupid” and “crazy” by the 2000s. In the mid-2000s, Dave Chapelle notably parodied crackheads in his character Tyrone Biggums.

In the late 2000s, some tabloids controversially described the singer Amy Winehouse, who was suffering from drug and alcohol addiction at the height of her career, as a crackhead.

Crackhead Bob (whose previous smoking of crack left him impaired) was a frequent guest on the Howard Stern radio show before he passed away in 2016.

How is crackhead used in real life?

Calling someone who is addicted to crack cocaine a crackhead can be very insensitive to the painful and difficult realities of substance use disorders.

Calling someone who isn’t addicted to drugs a crackhead means they are acting erratic, weird, or frantic in some way. This slang is also considered offensive, because it makes light of substance use disorders.

Example sentences from the Web for crackhead

British Dictionary definitions for crackhead

crackhead
/ (ˈkrækˌhɛd) /

noun

slang a person addicted to the drug crack
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