Crack the door

Mark Mandel Mark.A.Mandel at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 27 17:41:50 UTC 2009

I use this fairly often in-family to mean 'open the window just a crack', in
the house and the car. I'm fully aware of the possible misunderstanding, but
it seems to be thoroughly precluded by context and common sense.

I can't get the meaning 'close it just a crack'. I can see it logically, as
"close it until the opening is (only as wide as) a crack", but it doesn't
work for me. I DO say, e.g., "Leave it open just a crack."

m a m

On Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 6:26 AM, Damien Hall <djh514 at> wrote:

> Larry said:
> 'And you can only imagine what would happen if Amelia Bedelia were
> asked to "crack the window"...'
> Exactly. The reaction she would have had is the one that I (BrE)
> momentarily had when I was advised to 'crack the window' to keep the
> humidity down in my basement. The person giving the advice was the owner of
> our local hardware store and general local handyman, who's Philadelphian
> and Black. I only worked out what he meant because I was certain that he,
> being a local handyman and almost certainly the person who would have been
> asked to replace a cracked pane of glass, wouldn't have been asking me to
> actually break the window. Unless he was touting for business; but business
> was good!
> Moral: no variety of BrE that I'm aware of has the locution _crack the
> door/window_ meaning either 'open [it] a crack' or 'close [it] a crack,
> In that first paragraph, I struggled with the wording of the second
> sentence for a while so as not to imply that there was a 'Black
> Philadelphian' or 'Philadelphia(n) Black' ethnicity (_cf_ 'Black Arab').
> The relative clause was the best I could do.
> Damien
> --
> Damien Hall
> University of York
> Department of Language and Linguistic Science
> Heslington
> YO10 5DD
> UK
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