In Reply to: Crack their cheeks posted by All on October 15, 2008 at 11:43:
: I don't understand what "crack their cheeks" means in the following sentence, taken from an article published in The Economist : "And since neither of them is a fool, both crack their cheeks trying to sound sympathetic."
I've never heard this either. I'm sure it's meant as sarcasm, perhaps like "He almost cracked his jaw trying to smile." But I don't know any standard facial gesture associated with sounding sympathetic, especially in regard to the cheeks. There are a several ways one can make sounds with one's mouth, including a sort of clucking using the cheeks. One or two of these sounds could be construed as sympathetic sounds. But I don't know what the author had in mind. Perhaps there is a British idiom, cracking one's cheeks.