- noun a person who has committed a crime, especially a crime involving deceit
- adjective unwell, unhealthy, wrong, dubious. A common term in Australia, crook is either an alteration of the archaic slang term ‘cronk’ (from the German and Yiddish krank) meaning ill, or of crooked, meaning bent out of shape. By 1988, due to the influence of Australian soap operas, the word could be used in a British newspaper or magazine, although it has not as yet penetrated British speech.
Origin & History of “crook”
A crook ‘criminal’ is almost literally a ‘bent’ person. The underlying meaning of the word is ‘bend, curve, hook’, as can be seen in other applications such as ‘shepherd’s staff with a crooked end’, and particularly in the derivative crooked (13th c.). Crook was borrowed into English from Old Norse krókr ‘hook, corner’. Old French also acquired the Old Norse word, as croc, and passed it on to English in crochet, croquet, crotchet, and encroach; and the derived verbs crocher and crochier produced respectively a new noun croche ‘hook’, source of English crotch (16th c.), and the English verb crouch (14th c.). Moreover, Old French also had croce, resulting from an earlier borrowing of the word’s ultimate west and north Germanic base *kruk- introduced into vulgar Latin as *croccus, and this was eventually to form the basis of English crosier (14th c.) and perhaps lacrosse (18th c.).