Crack the door

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Aug 23 18:12:23 UTC 2009

At 11:13 AM -0300 8/23/09, David A. Daniel wrote:
>"Close the door a crack" gets exactly 1 Google hit. "Open the door a crack"
>gets 7,560. If wife told me to crack the door and I found it wide open, I
>would, I think, be momentarily flummoxed. Then I might think, "Oh, she must
>have thought it was closed." If I knew that she knew it was open, I might
>think, "I'll have to ask her about that usage. Let's see, where is she from

I find it very odd too, much like "Could you warm the coffee" if it's
too hot and you want me to put in an ice cube or blow on it so it
will be (only) warm.

>-----Original Message-----
>From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
>Joel S. Berson
>Sent: Sunday, August 23, 2009 10:36 AM
>Subject: Re: Crack the door
>At 8/23/2009 12:49 AM, nwhitman at wrote:
>>At night, my wife will ask me to "crack the door" before we watch
>>TV, so it won't keep the kids awake. I think, "what, *open* the
>>door!? That doesn't make sense!" Then I notice the door's already
>>wide open, and I realize she doesn't mean take it from closed to
>>slightly open, but from wide open to slightly open.
>>I can't get that meaning any more than I can say I've cracked a
>>plate when I've glued together the pieces of a broken plate. Can any
>>of you? For doors and windows, or just one or the other?
>Normally I would understand "crack the door/window" to mean "open it
>just a bit", but if I looked at or went to the door/window and found
>it widely open I would understand to close it to the desired position.
>The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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