\ˈkrak \
cracked; cracking; cracks

Definition of crack 

(Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to make a very sharp explosive sound The whip cracks through the air.

2 : to break, split, or snap apart The statue cracked when she dropped it.

3 : fail: such as

a : to lose control or effectiveness under pressure often used with up The stress was so great that she started to crack up.

b : to fail in tone His voice cracked.

4 : to go or travel at good speed usually used with on The steamboat cracked on.

transitive verb

1a : to break so that fissures appear on the surface crack a mirror

b : to break with a sudden sharp sound crack nuts

2 : to tell especially suddenly or strikingly crack a joke

3 : to strike with a sharp noise : rap then cracks him over the head cracked a two-run homer in the eighth

4a(1) : to open (something, such as a bottle) for drinking

(2) : to open (a book) for studying

b : to puzzle out and expose, solve, or reveal the mystery of crack a code

c : to break into crack a safe

d : to open slightly crack the throttle

e : to break through (something, such as a barrier) so as to gain acceptance or recognition … on track to crack Hollywood after landing a big screen role.— Ed Gleave and Peter Dyke

f : to show or begin showing (a smile) especially reluctantly or uncharacteristically

5a : to impair seriously or irreparably : wreck crack an opponent's courage

b : to destroy the tone of (a voice)

c : disorder, craze Worry had cracked his otherwise cheerful disposition.

d : to interrupt sharply or abruptly The criticism cracked our complacency.

6 : to cause to make a sharp noise cracks his knuckles

7a(1) : to subject (hydrocarbons) to cracking

(2) : to produce by cracking cracked gasoline

b : to break up (chemical compounds) into simpler compounds by means of heat

crack the whip

: to adopt or apply an authoritative, tyrannical, or threatening approach or policy (as in demanding harder work from employees) The team needs a coach who isn't afraid to crack the whip.

crack wise

: to make a wisecrack The comedian often cracked wise about prominent politicians.



Definition of crack (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a loud roll or peal a crack of thunder

b : a sudden sharp noise the crack of rifle fire

2 : a sharp witty remark : quip

3a : a narrow break : fissure a crack in the ice

b : a narrow opening Leave the door open a crack. cracks between floorboards used figuratively in phrases like fall through the cracks to describe one that has been improperly or inadvertently ignored or left out a player who fell through the cracks in the college draftChildren slipping through the cracks of available youth services.

4a : a weakness or flaw caused by decay, age, or deficiency : unsoundness

b : a broken tone of the voice

c : crackpot

5 : moment, instant the crack of dawn

7 : a sharp resounding blow gave him a crack on the head

8 : an attempt or opportunity to do something her first crack at writing a novel got first crack at the job opening

9 or crack cocaine : a potent form of cocaine that is obtained by treating the hydrochloride of cocaine with sodium bicarbonate to create small chips used illicitly for smoking



Definition of crack (Entry 3 of 3)

: of superior excellence or ability a crack marksman

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Examples of crack in a Sentence


The hailstones were big enough to crack some windows. He cracked his collarbone in a skiing accident. The mirror cracked when she dropped it. Workers cracked the large rock into three pieces so it could be moved. The bird cracked the seed on a tree branch. a tool used for cracking nuts He cracked open the eggs. Someone cracked him over the head with a beer bottle. The baby cracked her chin pretty hard when she fell. He fell and cracked his elbow on the ice.


The crack runs all the way from the top of the wall to the bottom. an old patio with grass growing up through the cracks The vase has a few fine cracks, but it is still usable. I could see them through the crack in the doorway. Light came through the cracks in the walls of the barn.


The company has a crack sales force. known as one of the college's crack tennis players
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Whether playing the saxophone with Clarence Clemons, swaying to the music with Michael Jackson, or cracking jokes with Jimmy Buffett, Clinton never seemed to want to leave. Neil Swidey,, "How Democrats would be better off if Bill Clinton had never been president," 10 July 2018 He and the head of the North Korean negotiating team, Kim Yong Chol, cracked jokes during a working dinner, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. Washington Post, "Analysis: Harsh words may mean NKorea seeks deal with Trump," 9 July 2018 With the Bulls, Robinson started sitting at the front of the plane on trips so he wouldn't be tempted to crack jokes. Jenna West,, "Nate Robinson: 'The NBA Gave Me My Depression'," 18 June 2018 Trump said during a photo session with Trudeau before private talks, where both leaders cracked jokes in front of reporters. Josh Wingrove,, "Trump Repeats He'd Quit Nafta and May Seek Separate Talks," 8 June 2018 Rick has long been a bad leader, especially since Negan began to crack at Rick’s mental fortitude. Laura Bradley, HWD, "Andrew Lincoln Might Leave The Walking Dead in Season 9—But How?," 29 May 2018 However, as of Friday (May 4), the young teen is alive and in good spirits cracking jokes. Marie Simoneaux,, "Alabama boy 'comes back to life' after parents prep to donate his organs: report," 6 May 2018 The youngest of six children, Salazar exhibited a larger-than-life persona on the diamond, often cracking jokes to his teammates but sometimes becoming more serious. Adam Zuvanich, San Antonio Express-News, "New Braunfels motivated by memory of fallen teammate," 4 May 2018 As the project got underway, the girls raised their hands and waited to be called on, while the boys were somewhat silly, cracking jokes about flying airplanes when asked about drilling pilot holes. Holly Ramer, The Christian Science Monitor, "Girls receive warm welcome in introduction to Cub Scouts," 23 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Decades of decline followed, in which a crack epidemic caused the murder rate to spike. The Economist, "In praise of gentrification," 21 June 2018 The area’s black population grew when Vietnam veterans returned in the 1960s and ’70s, and surged again during the ’80s crack epidemic and war on drugs. Zoie Matthew, Los Angeles Magazine, "Here’s What’s Being Done to End L.A.’s Homelessness Crisis," 14 June 2018 My first glimpse of Anderson Valley came on a vibrant morning, when the sun streamed through cracks in a ceiling of magnificent gray-white clouds. Jody Rosen, Smithsonian, "This Secret Corner of California Is a Paradise for Lovers of Great Food and Top-Notch Wines," 14 June 2018 Snowfall, John Singleton’s FX drama about the origins of the 1980s crack epidemic, expands its story with new episodes on July 19. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "18 New Shows to Watch This Summer," 29 May 2018 Lawmakers and experts haven’t reached a consensus on why the federal government’s response to opioids is so different from the crack epidemic that preceded it. Stephanie Armour, WSJ, "Opioid vs. Crack: Congress Reconsiders Its Approach to Drug Epidemic," 5 May 2018 The neighborhood is not the South Los Angeles of the 1980s and 1990s, when gang wars and the crack epidemic were devastating many lives. Tim Arango, New York Times, "Anatomy of a Los Angeles Police Shooting: A Black Teenager, a Missing Gun, Protests, Grief," 30 Mar. 2018 Buari is the subject of a forthcoming nonfiction podcast, Empire on Blood, which tells the tale of two young drug dealers who help propel the crack epidemic in the Bronx during the 1990s. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "New York man cleared of double homicide after 22 years in prison," 21 Mar. 2018 Prosecutors said Valdez was a onetime drug dealer who controlled Langdon Park in Northeast Washington during the crack epidemic of the late 1980s and 1990s. — Keith L. Alexander, — Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Local Digest: Killer of 3 in D.C. is sentenced to life in prison," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Follow along with The Post's crack whip count on where Senate Republicans stand on the revised health-care plan. Paige Winfield Cunningham, Washington Post, "The Health 202: Trump administration tells moderates to trust it on health care," 14 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'crack.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of crack


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1793, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for crack


Middle English crakken, from Old English cracian; akin to Old High German chrahhōn to resound


see crack entry 1


see crack entry 1

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Statistics for crack

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for crack

The first known use of crack was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for crack



English Language Learners Definition of crack

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to break (something) so that there are lines in its surface but it is usually not separated into pieces

: to hit or press (something) so hard that it breaks apart or opens suddenly

: to hit (someone or something) hard and usually suddenly



English Language Learners Definition of crack (Entry 2 of 3)

: a thin line in the surface of something that is broken but not separated into pieces

: a very narrow space or opening between two things or two parts of something

: a sudden loud, sharp sound



English Language Learners Definition of crack (Entry 3 of 3)

: very good : of excellent quality or ability


\ˈkrak \
cracked; cracking

Kids Definition of crack

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to break or cause to break with a sudden sharp sound crack an egg

2 : to break often without completely separating into parts The ice cracked in several places.

3 : to make or cause to make a sound as if breaking crack a whip

4 : to open a small amount crack a window

5 : to tell (a joke) especially in a clever way

6 : to lose self-control He cracked under the strain.

7 : to change in tone quality My voice cracked from emotion.

8 : to strike or receive a sharp blow … I bounced sideways and cracked my head on the half-open window …— Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Loses Control

9 : solve I cracked the code.

crack up

1 : to have a reputation as a result of praise The show wasn't as good as it was cracked up to be.

2 : to damage or destroy (a vehicle) by crashing

3 : to laugh or cause to laugh Her costume cracked me up.



Kids Definition of crack (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a narrow break or opening a crack in the glass

2 : a sudden sharp noise a crack of thunder

3 : a sharp clever remark

4 : a broken tone of the voice

5 : the beginning moment I awoke at the crack of dawn.

6 : a sharp blow

7 : attempt entry 2 It was my first crack at writing.



Kids Definition of crack (Entry 3 of 3)

: of high quality or ability crack troops


noun, often attributive
\ˈkrak \

Medical Definition of crack 

: a potent form of cocaine that is obtained by treating the hydrochloride of cocaine with sodium bicarbonate to create small chips used illicitly usually for smoking

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Comments on crack

What made you want to look up crack? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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