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A square saltine cracker.
A round cracker.
Unlike most crackers, graham crackers are sweet.


From the verb to crack. Hard "bread/biscuit" sense first attested 1739, though "hard wafer" sense attested 1440.

Sense of computer cracker, crack, cracking, were promoted in the 1980s as an alternative to hacker, by programmers concerned about negative public associations of hack, hacking (creative computer coding). See Citations:cracker.

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Various theories exists regarding this term's application to poor white Southerners. One theory holds that it originated with disadvantaged corn and wheat farmers ("corncrackers"), who cracked their crops rather than taking them to the mill. Another theory asserts that it was applied due to Georgia and Florida settlers (Florida crackers) who cracked loud whips to drive herds of cattle, or, alternatively, from the whip cracking of plantation slave drivers. Yet another theory maintains that the term cracker was in use in Elizabethan times to describe braggarts (see crack (to boast)). An early reference that supports this sense is a letter dated June 27, 1766 from Gavin Cochrane to the Earl of Dartmouth:

I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia, who often change their places of abode.[1][2]


  • enPR: krăk'ə(r), IPA(key): /ˈkɹækə(ɹ)/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ækə(ɹ)


cracker (plural crackers)

  1. A dry, thin, crispy baked bread (usually salty or savoury, but sometimes sweet, as in the case of graham crackers and animal crackers).
  2. A short piece of twisted string tied to the end of a whip that creates the distinctive sound when the whip is thrown or cracked.
  3. A firecracker.
  4. A person or thing that cracks, or that cracks a thing (e.g. whip cracker; nutcracker).
    1. The final section of certain whips, which is made of a short, thin piece of unravelled rope and produces a cracking sound.
      Synonym: popper
  5. A Christmas cracker.
  6. Refinery equipment used to pyrolyse organic feedstocks. If catalyst is used to aid pyrolysis it is informally called a cat-cracker
  7. (slang, chiefly Britain) A fine thing or person (crackerjack).
    She's an absolute cracker! The show was a cracker!
    • 2011 January 15, Saj Chowdhury, “Man City 4 - 3 Wolves”, in BBC[1]:
      And just before the interval, Kolarov, who was having one of his better games in a City shirt, fizzed in a cracker from 30 yards which the Wolves stopper unconvincingly pushed behind for a corner.
  8. An ambitious or hard-working person (i.e. someone who arises at the 'crack' of dawn).
  9. (computing) One who cracks (i.e. overcomes) computer software or security restrictions.
    • 1984, Richard Sedric Fox Eells, Peter Raymond Nehemkis, Corporate Intelligence and Espionage: A Blueprint for Executive Decision Making, Macmillan, p 137:
      It stated to one of the company's operators, “The Phantom, the system cracker, strikes again . . . Soon I will zero (expletive deleted) your desks and your backups on System A. I have already cracked your System B.
    • 2002, Steve Jones, Encyclopedia of New Media, page 1925:
      Likewise, early software pirates and "crackers" often used phrases like "information wants to be free" to protest the regulations against the copying of proprietary software packages and computer systems.
  10. (obsolete) A noisy boaster; a swaggering fellow.
    • Shakespeare
      What cracker is this same that deafs our ears?
  11. (US, derogatory, ethnic slur) An impoverished white person from the southeastern United States, originally associated with Georgia and parts of Florida; (by extension) any white person.
  12. (US, Florida, slang, derogatory) A police officer.
  13. A northern pintail, species of dabbling duck.
  14. (obsolete) A pair of fluted rolls for grinding caoutchouc.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Knight to this entry?)


Coordinate termsEdit

(dry, thin, crispy, bread):

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit



  1. ^ "cracker" in the Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper, 2001
  2. ^ "cracker" in The New Georgia Encyclopedia, John A. Burrison, Georgia State University, 2002