A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Rack (verb active)

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 1629

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 1629

To Rack. v.a. [from the noun.]

  1. To torment by the rack.

                  Hold, O dreadful Sir,
    You will not rack an innocent old man.
    Dryden and Lee.

  2. To torment; to harrass.

    Th' apostate angle, though in pain,
    Vaunting aloud, but rack'd with deep despair.

  3. To harrass by exaction.

    The landlords there shamefully rack their tenants, exacting of them, besides his covenants, what he pleaseth. Spenser.

    The commons hast thou rack'd; the clergy's bags
    Are lank and lean with thy extortions.

    He took possession of his just estate,
    Nor rack'd his tenants with increase of rent.

  4. To screw; to force to performance.

    They racking and stretching scripture further than by God was meant, are drawn into sundry inconveniences. Hooker.

    The wisest among the heathens racked their wits, and cast about every way, managing every little argument to the utmost advantage. Tillotson's Sermons.

  5. To stretch; to extend.

    Nor have I money nor commodity
    To raise a present sum;
    Try what my credit can in Venice do,
    That shall be rack'd even to the uttermost.

  6. To defecate; to draw off from the lees. I know not whence this word is derived in this sense; rein, German, is clear, pure, whence our word to rinse; this is perhaps of the same race.

    It is common to draw wine or beer from the lees, which we call racking, whereby it will clarify much the sooner. Bacon.

    Some roll their cask about the cellar to mix it with the lees, and, after a few days resettlement, rack it off. Mortim.

Sources: Bacon, Francis (396) · Dryden, John (788) · Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 2 (49) · Hooker, Richard (175) · Lee, Nathaniel (6) · Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice (83) · Milton, John (449) · Mortimer, John (62) · Spenser, Edmund (254) · Tillotson, John (68)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Rack (verb active)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: November 12, 2012. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/rack-verb-active/.

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