To be on the rack
Rack Rack, n. [Probably fr. D. rek, rekbank, a rack, rekken to stretch; akin to G. reck, reckbank, a rack, recken to stretch, Dan. r[ae]kke, Sw. r["a]cka, Icel. rekja to spread out, Goth. refrakjan to stretch out; cf. L. porrigere, Gr. 'ore`gein. [root]115. Cf. {Right}, a., {Ratch}.] 1. An instrument or frame used for stretching, extending, retaining, or displaying, something. Specifically: (a) An engine of torture, consisting of a large frame, upon which the body was gradually stretched until, sometimes, the joints were dislocated; -- formerly used judicially for extorting confessions from criminals or suspected persons. [1913 Webster]

During the troubles of the fifteenth century, a rack was introduced into the Tower, and was occasionally used under the plea of political necessity. --Macaulay. [1913 Webster] (b) An instrument for bending a bow. (c) A grate on which bacon is laid. (d) A frame or device of various construction for holding, and preventing the waste of, hay, grain, etc., supplied to beasts. (e) A frame on which articles are deposited for keeping or arranged for display; as, a clothes rack; a bottle rack, etc. (f) (Naut.) A piece or frame of wood, having several sheaves, through which the running rigging passes; -- called also {rack block}. Also, a frame to hold shot. (g) (Mining) A frame or table on which ores are separated or washed. (h) A frame fitted to a wagon for carrying hay, straw, or grain on the stalk, or other bulky loads. (i) A distaff. [1913 Webster]

2. (Mech.) A bar with teeth on its face, or edge, to work with those of a wheel, pinion, or worm, which is to drive it or be driven by it. [1913 Webster]

3. That which is extorted; exaction. [Obs.] --Sir E. Sandys. [1913 Webster]

{Mangle rack}. (Mach.) See under {Mangle}. n.

{Rack block}. (Naut.) See def. 1 (f), above.

{Rack lashing}, a lashing or binding where the rope is tightened, and held tight by the use of a small stick of wood twisted around.

{Rack rail} (Railroads), a toothed rack, laid as a rail, to afford a hold for teeth on the driving wheel of a locomotive for climbing steep gradients, as in ascending a mountain.

{Rack saw}, a saw having wide teeth.

{Rack stick}, the stick used in a rack lashing.

{To be on the rack}, to suffer torture, physical or mental.

{To live at rack and manger}, to live on the best at another's expense. [Colloq.]

{To put to the rack}, to subject to torture; to torment. [1913 Webster]

A fit of the stone puts a king to the rack, and makes him as miserable as it does the meanest subject. --Sir W. Temple. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • To put to the rack — Rack Rack, n. [Probably fr. D. rek, rekbank, a rack, rekken to stretch; akin to G. reck, reckbank, a rack, recken to stretch, Dan. r[ae]kke, Sw. r[ a]cka, Icel. rekja to spread out, Goth. refrakjan to stretch out; cf. L. porrigere, Gr. ore gein.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • On the cards — Card Card (k[aum]rd), n. [F. carte, fr. L. charta paper, Gr. ? a leaf of paper. Cf. {Chart}.] 1. A piece of pasteboard, or thick paper, blank or prepared for various uses; as, a playing card; a visiting card; a card of invitation; pl. a game… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To speak by the card — Card Card (k[aum]rd), n. [F. carte, fr. L. charta paper, Gr. ? a leaf of paper. Cf. {Chart}.] 1. A piece of pasteboard, or thick paper, blank or prepared for various uses; as, a playing card; a visiting card; a card of invitation; pl. a game… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To be under hatches — Hatch Hatch, n. [OE. hacche, AS. h[ae]c, cf. haca the bar of a door, D. hek gate, Sw. h[ a]ck coop, rack, Dan. hekke manger, rack. Prob. akin to E. hook, and first used of something made of pieces fastened together. Cf. {Heck}, {Hack} a frame.] 1 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To batten down the hatches — Hatch Hatch, n. [OE. hacche, AS. h[ae]c, cf. haca the bar of a door, D. hek gate, Sw. h[ a]ck coop, rack, Dan. hekke manger, rack. Prob. akin to E. hook, and first used of something made of pieces fastened together. Cf. {Heck}, {Hack} a frame.] 1 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Rack — Rack, n. [Probably fr. D. rek, rekbank, a rack, rekken to stretch; akin to G. reck, reckbank, a rack, recken to stretch, Dan. r[ae]kke, Sw. r[ a]cka, Icel. rekja to spread out, Goth. refrakjan to stretch out; cf. L. porrigere, Gr. ore gein.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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