Origin of crank

1
before 1000; Middle English cranke, Old English cranc-, in crancstǣf crank (see staff1)
Related formscrank·less, adjectivenon·crank·ing, adjectiveun·cranked, adjective

crank

2
[krangk]

adjective Nautical.

Also cranky. having a tendency to roll easily, as a boat or ship; tender (opposed to stiff).

noun

a crank vessel.

Origin of crank

2
1690–1700; probably to be identified with crank1, but sense developement unclear; cf. crank-sided

crank

3
[krangk]

adjective British Dialect.

lively; high-spirited.

Origin of crank

3
1350–1400; Middle English cranke, of obscure origin
Related formscrank·ly, adverbcrank·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


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British Dictionary definitions for crank

crank

1

noun

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
informal
  1. an eccentric or odd person, esp someone who stubbornly maintains unusual views
  2. US and Canadiana bad-tempered person

verb

(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
See also crank up

Word Origin for crank

Old English cranc; related to Middle Low German krunke wrinkle, Dutch krinkel crinkle

crank

2

cranky

adjective

(of a sailing vessel) easily keeled over by the wind; tender

Word Origin for crank

C17: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to crank 1
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 crank
n.

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.

v.

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