crack

Definitions

General English

Electronics

  • To break into a computer system by circumventing or otherwise defeating the protective measures of said system. For example, to guess or otherwise acquire a password to gain access.

Medical

  • verb to make a thin break in something, or become split

Military

  • adjective elite, of very high quality

Slang

  • noun a purified, addictive form of cocaine. When pellets of crack are smoked they fizz and crackle, which is probably the origin of the name, reinforced by the precedent of smack. The drug became popular in the USA in 1985, but was first described in The Gourmet Cookbook, a Complete Guide to Cocaine, published in California in 1972.
  • noun the vagina. An obvious vulgarism, occasionally heard in all English-speaking areas.
  • noun a good time. From the adjective cracking and the Irish notion (sense 4).
  • noun what’s going on, the latest news or the current ambience. This word is used all over Ireland and in the late 1980s spread to Britain. The all-purpose term, usually in phrases such as ‘what’s the crack?’ or ‘that’s the crack!’, seems to combine two very old, popular unorthodox senses of the word: to talk, gossip or boast, as in crack on, and the adjective crack meaning first-rate, excellent.

Origin & History of “crack”

Old English had the verb cracian ‘make a sudden sharp noise’, but English did not acquire the noun crack until the 14th century. both are of Germanic origin (modern German has the related krachen, for instance, and Dutch has kraken), and the verb’s hypothetical ancestor can be reconstructed as *krakojan. The notion of ‘sudden sharp noise’ is semantically primary (presumably it was originally onomatopoeic), and the prevalent modern sense ‘fissure’ arises from the connection between the noise of something breaking and the resultant line of fracture.
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