verb (used with object), craned, cran·ing.

to hoist, lower, or move by or as by a crane.
to stretch (the neck) as a crane does.

verb (used without object), craned, cran·ing.

to stretch out one's neck, especially to see better.
to hesitate at danger, difficulty, etc.

Origin of crane

before 1000; Middle English; Old English cran; cognate with German Kran, Greek géranos Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for craning

Historical Examples of craning

  • Kirkwood looked back, craning his neck round the side of the cab.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Exclamations from the crowd, craning necks, peering eyes, murmurs.

    A Nest of Spies

    Pierre Souvestre

  • There was a bustle among the audience, a sudden rising, a craning of necks.

    The Film of Fear

    Arnold Fredericks

  • There was a silence of expectancy, and a turning of heads, a craning of necks.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • Alderson, who had been craning out of the door, drew back his head to speak.

    The Pirate of Panama

    William MacLeod Raine

British Dictionary definitions for craning



any large long-necked long-legged wading bird of the family Gruidae, inhabiting marshes and plains in most parts of the world except South America, New Zealand, and Indonesia: order GruiformesSee also demoiselle (def. 1), whooping crane
(not in ornithological use) any similar bird, such as a heron
a device for lifting and moving heavy objects, typically consisting of a moving boom, beam, or gantry from which lifting gear is suspendedSee also gantry
films a large trolley carrying a boom, on the end of which is mounted a camera


(tr) to lift or move (an object) by or as if by a crane
to stretch out (esp the neck), as to see over other people's heads
(intr) (of a horse) to pull up short before a jump

Word Origin for crane

Old English cran; related to Middle High German krane, Latin grūs, Greek géranos



(Harold) Hart. 1899–1932, US poet; author of The Bridge (1930)
Stephen. 1871–1900, US novelist and short-story writer, noted particularly for his novel The Red Badge of Courage (1895)
Walter. 1845–1915, British painter, illustrator of children's books, and designer of textiles and wallpaper
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 craning



Old English cran "large wading bird," common Germanic (cf. Old Saxon krano, Old High German krano, German Kranich, and, with unexplained change of consonant, Old Norse trani), from PIE *gere- (cf. Greek geranos, Latin grus, Welsh garan, Lithuanian garnys "heron, stork"), perhaps echoic of its cry. Metaphoric use for "machine with a long arm" is first attested late 13c. (a sense also in equivalent words in German and Greek).



"to stretch (the neck)," 1799, from crane (n.). Related: Craned; craning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper