crank

\ \ [OE] There appears to be a link between the words crank, cringe, and crinkle. They share the meaning element ‘bending’ or ‘curling up’ (which later developed metaphorically into ‘becoming weak or sick’, as in the related German krankill’), and probably all came from a prehistoric Germanic base *krank-. In Old English the word crank appeared only in the compound crancstoef, the name for a type of implement used by weavers; it is not recorded in isolation until the mid-15th century, when it appears in a Latin-English dictionary as a translation of Latin haustrumwinch’. The adjective cranky [18] is no doubt related, but quite how closely is not clear. It may derive from an obsolete thieves’ slang term crank meaning ‘person feigning sickness to gain money’, which may have connections with German krank.
\ \ Modern English crankcranky person’ is a backformation from the adjective, coined in American English in the 19th century.
\ \ Cf.CRINGE, CRINKLE

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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  • Crank — (kr[a^][ng]k), n. [OE. cranke; akin to E. cringe, cringle, crinkle, and to crank, a., the root meaning, probably, to turn, twist. See {Cringe}.] 1. (Mach.) A bent portion of an axle, or shaft, or an arm keyed at right angles to the end of a shaft …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Crank — (kr[a^][ng]k), a. [AS. cranc weak; akin to Icel. krangr, D. & G. krank sick, weak (cf. D. krengen to careen). Cf. {Crank}, n.] 1. Sick; infirm. [Prov. Eng.] [1913 Webster] 2. (Naut.) Liable to careen or be overset, as a ship when she is too… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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