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Re: A few words about "crack"

Posted by ESC on November 20, 2004

In Reply to: Re: The Craic (pronounced?) posted by Shae on November 20, 2004

: : : : : : : : : : : : I just said this to some students and, thanks to the PF, found myself asking,"What is the origin of this phrase?"
: : : : : : : : : : : : Any ideas? SR

: : : : : : : : : : : I can't help you with the origin of the phrase, but here's what the OED says. "b. Colloq. phr. to get cracking: to get started; to 'get a move on'. Cf. GET v. 32b. Also with noun or pronoun (or other object) interposed between get and cracking. 1937 PARTRIDGE Dict. Slang 324/1 Get cracking, to begin work.
: : : : : : : : : : :
: : : : : : : : : : : c. to get going: to begin; to start talking, acting, etc., vigorously; to get into full swing; to 'get a move on'. Also trans., to start; to render (someone) excited, talkative, etc. See also to get cracking s.v. CRACK v. 22b.
: : : : : : : : : : :
: : : : : : : : : : : 1897 O. W. HOLMES Pollock-Holmes Lett. I. 77 He is really fine when he gets going on the Church of England." SS

: : : : : : : : : : I imagine it's related to the expresions, "To crack on more sail" or "to crack on more speed", maybe even "the crack of dawn". However, I draw the line short of "Cracking good toast, Grommet"!

: : : : : : : : : Why is this not related to cracking a whip in order to get a horse to go faster?

: : : : : : : : I'm rather drawn to the whip theory. "Let's get cracking" is, I am entirely sure, of British origin. There is a very similar verbal usage, namely "to crack on" - "How's he doing with that presentation?" "Oh, he's really cracking on with it", meaning he's well into his stride and fast on the way to completing the task. I'm faintly suspicious that "to crack on" is of nautical origins, as per above.

: : : : : : : "How's the crack" means something like "how's it going?" to Irish people. And to Americans? Well, let's just say I fell out of my chair the first time an Irish friend said this to me. Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone has a more specific definition and if it bears any relationship to this discussion?

: : : : : : : Camel

: : : : : : so it's true...crack really is whack.

: : : : : Craic, as Shae will no doubt confirm, is the Irish for something like "a good time". This has crossed the Irish Sea to become "crack" in UK English.

: : : : "The Craic" has been embraced by many British - there's hardly an Irishman of my age that I've known who hasn't used it sometime and it is such a great expression - with connotations of music, drink and laughter - that I use it myself. It is probably the equivalent of the archaic sounding 'carouse' - with which it is somewhat assonant.

: : : : 'we had good craic' does not involve cocaine.

: : : : L
: : : Never heard the word. Is it pronounced crack?

: : Yes, pretty much. :)

: Craic is actually the Irish-ised version of the Middle English 'crak,' meaning loud conversation or bragging talk. Craic now means high-spirited entertainment. Dolan's Dictionary of Hiberno-English gives a few examples: The craic was ninety [extremely good]'; 'There does be great craic in the pub of (sic) a Saturday night.'

: Sadly, the use of 'of' as in the last example is dying out because it used perplex visitors no end. E.g.,

: 'I heard Paddy died. What did he die of?'
: 'He died of a Tuesday.'

CRACK - "First-rate, excellent, as 'a crack regiment' or 'a crack shot.' Formerly the word was used as a noun for a lively young fellow, a wag.

Indeed, La! 'tis a noble child; a crack, madam.
Shakespeare: Coriolanus, I, iii ."

To "crack up" can either mean "to praise highly" (As in, "He's not what he's cracked up to be.") or (the more common usage in the U.S., at least) "to break down in health or mind."

This phrase in question is also under "crack" but it doesn't say if it's a related phrase:

Cracking, to get. "A popular expression, meaning to get moving or going; to start something promptly and energetically."

From "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" revised by Adrian Room (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999, Sixteenth Edition).