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American Dictionary of the English Language

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Rack


RACK, noun [Eng. to reach. See Reach and Break.]

1. An engine of torture, used for extorting confessions from criminals or suspected persons. The rack is entirely unknown in free countries.

2. Torture; extreme pain; anguish.

A fit of the stone puts a king to the rack and makes him as miserable as it does the meanest subject.

3. Any instrument for stretching or extending any thing; as a rack for bending a bow.

4. A grate on which bacon is laid.

5. A wooden frame of open work in which hay is laid for horses and cattle for feeding.

6. The frame of bones of an animal; a skeleton. We say, a rack of bones.

7. A frame of timber on a ship's bowsprit.

RACK, noun [Eng. crag.]

The neck and spine of a fore quarter of veal or mutton.

[The two foregoing words are doubtless from one original.]

RACK, noun [See Reek.]

Properly, vapor; hence, thin flying broken clouds, or any portion of floating vapor in the sky.

The winds in the upper region, which move the clouds above, which we call the rack -

The great globe itself, yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, and, like this unsubstantial pageant, faded, leave not a rack behind.

It is disputed however, whether rack in this passage should not be wreck.

RACK, noun [for arrack. See Arrack.] Among the Tartars, a spirituous liquor made of mare's milk which has become sour and is then distilled.

RACK, verb intransitive [See the noun.]

1. Properly, to steam; to rise, as vapor.

[See Reek, which is the word used.]

2. To fly, as vapor or broken clouds.

RACK, verb transitive [from the noun.]

1. To torture; to stretch or strain on the rack or wheel; as, to rack a criminal or suspected person, to extort a confession of his guilt, or compel him to betray his accomplices.

2. To torment; to torture; to affect with extreme pain or anguish; as racked with deep despair.

3. To harass by exaction.

The landlords there shamefully rack their tenants.

4. To stretch; to strain vehemently; to wrest; as, to rack and stretch Scripture; to rack invention.

The wisest among the heathens racked their wits -

5. To stretch; to extend.

RACK, verb transitive

To draw off from the lees; to draw off, as pure liquor from its sediment; as, to rack cider or wine; to rack off liquor.