rack

rack

synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples & translations of rack in English

English Online Dictionary. What means rack‎? What does rack mean?

English

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ɹæk/
  • Rhymes: -æk
  • Homophone: wrack

Etymology 1

From Middle English rakke, rekke, from Middle Dutch rac, recke, rec (Dutch rek), see rekken.

Noun

rack (plural racks)

  1. A series of one or more shelves, stacked one above the other
  2. Any of various kinds of frame for holding clothes, bottles, animal fodder, mined ore, shot on a vessel, etc.
  3. (nautical) A piece or frame of wood, having several sheaves, through which the running rigging passes.
  4. (nautical, slang) A bunk.
  5. A distaff.
  6. A bar with teeth on its face or edge, to work with those of a gearwheel, pinion, or worm, which is to drive or be driven by it.
  7. A bar with teeth on its face or edge, to work with a pawl as a ratchet allowing movement in one direction only, used for example in a handbrake or crossbow.
  8. A device, incorporating a ratchet, used to torture victims by stretching them beyond their natural limits.
    • 1596-97, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act III Scene 2
      Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack,
      Where men enforced do speak anything.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Macaulay
      During the troubles of the fifteenth century, a rack was introduced into the Tower, and was occasionally used under the plea of political necessity.
  9. A cranequin, a mechanism including a rack, pinion and pawl, providing both mechanical advantage and a ratchet, used to bend and cock a crossbow.
  10. A set of antlers (as on deer, moose or elk).
  11. A cut of meat involving several adjacent ribs.
    I bought a rack of lamb at the butcher's yesterday.
  12. (billiards, snooker, pool) A hollow triangle used for aligning the balls at the start of a game.
  13. (slang, vulgar) A woman's breasts.
  14. (climbing, caving) A friction device for abseiling, consisting of a frame with five or more metal bars, around which the rope is threaded.
  15. (climbing, slang) A climber's set of equipment for setting up protection and belays, consisting of runners, slings, carabiners, nuts, Friends, etc.
    I used almost a full rack on the second pitch.
  16. A grate on which bacon is laid.
  17. (obsolete) That which is extorted; exaction.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir E. Sandys to this entry?)
  18. (algebra) A set with a distributive binary operation whose result is unique.
  19. (slang) A thousand pounds (£1,000), especially such proceeds of crime
Synonyms
  • (nautical: piece of wood): rack block
  • (breasts): See also Thesaurus:breasts
Derived terms
Translations

Verb

rack (third-person singular simple present racks, present participle racking, simple past and past participle racked)

  1. To place in or hang on a rack.
  2. To torture (someone) on the rack.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Alexander Pope
      He was racked and miserably tormented.
    • 2011, Thomas Penn, Winter King, Penguin 2012, p. 228:
      As the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt later recalled, his father, Henry VII's jewel-house keeper Henry Wyatt, had been racked on the orders of Richard III, who had sat there and watched.
  3. To cause (someone) to suffer pain.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      Vaunting aloud but racked with deep despair.
  4. (figuratively) To stretch or strain; to harass, or oppress by extortion.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
      Try what my credit can in Venice do; / That shall be racked even to the uttermost.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Edmund Spenser
      The landlords there shamefully rack their tenants.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Fuller
      They rack a Scripture simile beyond the true intent thereof.
  5. (billiards, snooker, pool) To put the balls into the triangular rack and set them in place on the table.
  6. (slang) To strike a male in the testicles.
  7. To (manually) load (a round of ammunition) from the magazine or belt into firing position in an automatic or semiautomatic firearm.
  8. (mining) To wash (metals, ore, etc.) on a rack.
  9. (nautical) To bind together, as two ropes, with cross turns of yarn, marline, etc.
  10. To move the slide bar on a shotgun in order to chamber the next round
    If you're going to have to use it defensively, have the shotgun already loaded and ready for use. The last thing you want to have to do is rack the slide, which could give away your position, in which case it may very well be the last thing you ever do.
Usage notes

In senses “torture” and “suffer pain”, frequently confused with wrack (destroy) (more rarely, wrack (wreckage)), both as stand-alone verb and in compounds. In most uses, rack is correct, and wrack is incorrect. Etymologically, nerve-racking (stressful), pain-racked, and rack one's brain, rack one's brains (think hard) are correct, while rack and ruin and storm-racked are incorrect, variants of wrack and ruin (complete destruction) and storm-wracked (wrecked by a storm).

Usage guidance differs: either prefer the etymologically correct term, prefer rack to (archaic) wrack, or use either. The etymologically correct forms are preferred by some style guides, but the unetymological forms are well-established and in wide use, and other style guides simply consider them variant spellings. Other style guides categorically ban wrack as archaic, suggesting modern synonyms like wreck, ruin, or destroy. In some cases style guides are confused by the etymology, or feature unhistorical forms such as nerve-wracking.

This confusion dates to Early Modern English in the 16th century (as in rack and ruin), and is presumably due to the influence of ⟨wr⟩ in words such as wreak, wreck, wrench, etc., which connote discomfort and torment. Formally termed the graphaesthesia of the graphaestheme ⟨wr⟩, since identical sound /r/ to ⟨r⟩; compare with phonaesthesia. Compare rapt/wrapt, and also ⟨gh⟩ as in ghost, ghastly, ghoul.

Derived terms
  • nerve-racking
  • pain-racked
  • rack one's brain, rack one's brains
  • storm-racked
Translations

Etymology 2

From Old English reċċan (to stretch out, extend).

Verb

rack (third-person singular simple present racks, present participle racking, simple past and past participle racked)

  1. To stretch a person's joints.
Derived terms
  • rack one's brain
Translations

Etymology 3

From Middle English reken, from Old Norse reka (to be drifted, tost)

The noun is from Middle English rak, rakke, from Middle English rek (drift; thing tossed ashore; jetsam), from the verb.

Verb

rack (third-person singular simple present racks, present participle racking, simple past and past participle racked)

  1. To drive; move; go forward rapidly; stir
  2. To fly, as vapour or broken clouds
Translations

Noun

rack (uncountable)

  1. Thin, flying, broken clouds, or any portion of floating vapour in the sky.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Francis Bacon
      The winds in the upper region, which move the clouds above, which we call the rack, [] pass without noise.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Charles Kingsley
      And the night rack came rolling up.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV, scene 14
      Sometime we see a cloud that's dragonish ... That which is now a horse ... The rack dislimns, and makes it indistinct .... ()

Etymology 4

From Middle English rakken.

Verb

rack (third-person singular simple present racks, present participle racking, simple past and past participle racked)

  1. (brewing) To clarify, and thereby deter further fermentation of, beer, wine or cider by draining or siphoning it from the dregs.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Francis Bacon
      It is in common practice to draw wine or beer from the lees (which we call racking), whereby it will clarify much the sooner.
Translations

Etymology 5

See rack (that which stretches), or rock (verb).

Verb

rack (third-person singular simple present racks, present participle racking, simple past and past participle racked)

  1. (of a horse) To amble fast, causing a rocking or swaying motion of the body; to pace.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Fuller to this entry?)

Noun

rack (plural racks)

  1. A fast amble.

Etymology 6

See wreck.

Noun

rack (plural racks)

  1. (obsolete) A wreck; destruction.
    • Samuel Pepys
      All goes to rack.
Derived terms
  • rack and ruin

Etymology 7

Noun

rack (plural racks)

  1. A young rabbit.

Etymology 8

Noun

rack

  1. Alternative form of arak

References

Anagrams

  • cark

Spanish

Noun

rack m (plural racks)

  1. rack

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This article based on an article on Wiktionary. The list of authors can be seen in the page history there. The original work has been modified. This article is distributed under the terms of this license.