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1 definition found
for To be on the rack
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :
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[aum]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.
During the troubles of the fifteenth century, a
rack was introduced into the Tower, and was
occasionally used under the plea of political
(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
(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
(h) A frame fitted to a wagon for carrying hay, straw, or
grain on the stalk, or other bulky loads.
(i) A distaff.
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.
3. That which is extorted; exaction. [Obs.] --Sir E. Sandys.
Mangle rack. (Mach.) See under Mangle. n.
Rack block. (Naut.) See def. 1
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
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.
A fit of the stone puts a king to the rack, and
makes him as miserable as it does the meanest
subject. --Sir W.
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