[ krangk ]
See synonyms for crank on
  1. 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.

  2. Informal. an ill-tempered, grouchy person.

  1. an unbalanced person who is overzealous in the advocacy of a private cause.

  2. an eccentric or whimsical notion.

  3. a strikingly clever turn of speech or play on words.

  4. Archaic. a bend; turn.

  5. Slang. the nasal decongestant propylhexedrine, used illicitly for its euphoric effects.

  6. Automotive Slang. a crankshaft.

verb (used with object)
  1. to bend into or make in the shape of a crank.

  2. to furnish with a crank.

  1. Machinery. to rotate (a shaft) by means of a crank.

  2. to start (an internal-combustion engine) by turning the crankshaft manually or by means of a small motor.

  3. to start the engine of (a motor vehicle) by turning the crankshaft manually.

verb (used without object)
  1. to turn a crank, as in starting an automobile engine.

  2. Obsolete. to turn and twist; zigzag.

  1. of, relating to, or by an unbalanced or overzealous person: a crank phone call; crank mail.

  1. British Dialect. cranky1 (def. 5).

Verb Phrases
  1. crank down, to cause to diminish or terminate: the president's efforts to crank down inflation.

  2. crank in / into to incorporate as an integral part: Overhead is cranked into the retail cost.

  1. 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.

  2. 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 crank

First recorded before 1000; Middle English crank, cronk, Old English cranc-, in crancstæf, a kind of weaver's tool (see staff1)

Other words from crank

  • crankless, adjective
  • non·crank·ing, adjective
  • un·cranked, adjective

Other definitions for crank (2 of 3)

[ krangk ]

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

  1. a crank vessel.

Origin of crank

First recorded in 1690–1700; probably to be identified with crank1, but sense development unclear; see also crank-sided

Other definitions for crank (3 of 3)

[ krangk ]

adjectiveBritish Dialect.

Origin of crank

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English cranke; of obscure origin

Other words from crank

  • crankly, adverb
  • crankness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use crank in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for crank (1 of 2)


/ (kræŋk) /

  1. 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

  2. Also called: crank handle, starting handle a handle incorporating a crank, used to start an engine or motor

  1. informal

    • an eccentric or odd person, esp someone who stubbornly maintains unusual views

    • US and Canadian a bad-tempered person

  1. (tr) to rotate (a shaft) by means of a crank

  2. (tr) to start (an engine, motor, etc) by means of a crank handle

  1. (tr) to bend, twist, or make into the shape of a crank

  2. (intr) obsolete to twist or wind

Origin of crank

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

British Dictionary definitions for crank (2 of 2)



/ (kræŋk) /

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

Origin of 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