rack-and-pinion [rak-uh n-pin-yuh n] SynonymsExamplesWord Origin adjective

  1. of or relating to a mechanism in which a rack engages a pinion: rack-and-pinion steering.

Origin of rack-and-pinion First recorded in 1900–05 rack and pinion noun Machinery, Automotive.

  1. See under rack1(def 5a).

rack 1[rak] noun

  1. a framework of bars, wires, or pegs on which articles are arranged or deposited: a clothes rack; a luggage rack.
  2. a fixture containing several tiered shelves, often affixed to a wall: a book rack; a spice rack.
  3. a spreading framework set on a wagon for carrying hay, straw, or the like, in large loads.
  4. Pool.
    1. a wooden frame of triangular shape within which the balls are arranged before play.
    2. the balls so arranged: He took aim at the rack.
  5. Machinery.
    1. a bar, with teeth on one of its sides, adapted to engage with the teeth of a pinion (rack and pinion) or the like, as for converting circular into rectilinear motion or vice versa.
    2. a bar having a series of notches engaging with a pawl or the like.
  6. a former instrument of torture consisting of a framework on which a victim was tied, often spread-eagled, by the wrists and ankles, to be slowly stretched by spreading the parts of the framework.
  7. a cause or state of intense suffering of body or mind.
  8. torment; anguish.
  9. violent strain.
  10. a pair of antlers.
  11. Slang. a bed, cot, or bunk: I spent all afternoon in the rack.

verb (used with object)

  1. to torture; distress acutely; torment: His body was racked with pain.
  2. to strain in mental effort: to rack one’s brains.
  3. to strain by physical force or violence.
  4. to strain beyond what is normal or usual.
  5. to stretch the body of (a person) in torture by means of a rack.
  6. Nautical. to seize (two ropes) together side by side.

Verb Phrases

  1. rack out, Slang. to go to bed; go to sleep: I racked out all afternoon.
  2. rack up,
    1. Pool.to put (the balls) in a rack.
    2. Informal.to tally, accumulate, or amass as an achievement or score: The corporation racked up the greatest profits in its history.

Origin of rack 1 1250–1300; Middle English rakke, rekke (noun) Middle Dutch rac, rec, recke; compare Middle Low German reck, German Reck Related formsrack·ing·ly, adverbCan be confusedrack wrack wreak wreckracked wracked wreaked wreckedSynonyms for rack 7. torture, pain, agony, tribulation, ordeal. 12. See torment. Examples from the Web for rack-and-pinion Historical Examples of rack-and-pinion

  • A rack-and-pinion movement for elevating or lowering the sliding pillar would be useful.

    Every Boy’s Book: A Complete Encyclopdia of Sports and Amusements


  • A cheap instrument has an open face and plain frame, with sliding vernier instead of rack-and-pinion motion.

    A Treatise on Meteorological Instruments

    Henry Negretti

  • No odour, no teeth-disturbing grind of rack-and-pinion, no trumpeting, with that machine!

    Buried Alive: A Tale of These Days

    Arnold Bennett

  • British Dictionary definitions for rack-and-pinion rack-and-pinion noun

    1. a device for converting rotary into linear motion and vice versa, in which a gearwheel (the pinion) engages with a flat toothed bar (the rack)


    1. (of a type of steering gear in motor vehicles) having a track rod with a rack along part of its length that engages with a pinion attached to the steering column

    rack 1 noun

    1. a framework for holding, carrying, or displaying a specific load or objecta plate rack; a hat rack; a hay rack; a luggage rack
    2. a toothed bar designed to engage a pinion to form a mechanism that will interconvert rotary and rectilinear motions
    3. a framework fixed to an aircraft for carrying bombs, rockets, etc
    4. the rack an instrument of torture that stretched the body of the victim
    5. a cause or state of mental or bodily stress, suffering, etc; anguish; torment (esp in the phrase on the rack)
    6. slang, mainly US a woman’s breasts
    7. US and Canadian (in pool, snooker, etc)
      1. the triangular frame used to arrange the balls for the opening shot
      2. the balls so groupedBrit equivalent: frame

    verb (tr)

    1. to torture on the rack
    2. Also: wrack to cause great stress or suffering toguilt racked his conscience
    3. Also: wrack to strain or shake (something) violently, as by great physical forcethe storm racked the town
    4. to place or arrange in or on a rackto rack bottles of wine
    5. to move (parts of machinery or a mechanism) using a toothed rack
    6. to raise (rents) exorbitantly; rack-rent
    7. rack one’s brains to strain in mental effort, esp to remember something or to find the solution to a problem

    See also rack up Derived Formsracker, nounWord Origin for rack C14 rekke, probably from Middle Dutch rec framework; related to Old High German recchen to stretch, Old Norse rekja to spread outxref See wrack 1 rack 2 noun

    1. destruction; wreck (obsolete except in the phrase go to rack and ruin)

    Word Origin for rack C16: variant of wrack 1 rack 3 noun

    1. another word for single-foot, a gait of the horse

    Word Origin for rack C16: perhaps based on rock ² rack 4 noun

    1. a group of broken clouds moving in the wind


    1. (intr) (of clouds) to be blown along by the wind

    Word Origin for rack Old English wrǣc what is driven; related to Gothic wraks persecutor, Swedish vrak wreckage rack 5 verb (tr)

    1. to clear (wine, beer, etc) as by siphoning it off from the dregs
    2. to fill a container with (beer, wine, etc)

    Word Origin for rack C15: from Old Provençal arraca, from raca dregs of grapes after pressing rack 6 noun

    1. the neck or rib section of mutton, pork, or veal

    Word Origin for rack Old English hrace; related to Old High German rahho, Danish harke, Swedish harkla to clear one’s throat Word Origin and History for rack-and-pinion rack n.1

    “frame with bars,” c.1300, possibly from Middle Dutch rec “framework,” literally “something stretched out, related to recken (modern rekken) “stretch out,” cognate with Old English reccan “to stretch out,” from Proto-Germanic *rak- (cf. Old Saxon rekkian, Old Frisian reza, Old Norse rekja, Old High German recchen, German recken, Gothic uf-rakjan “to stretch out”), from PIE *rog-, from root *reg- “to move in a straight line” (see regal).

    Meaning “instrument of torture” first recorded early 15c., perhaps from German rackbank, originally an implement for stretching leather, etc. Mechanical meaning “toothed bar” is from 1797 (see pinion). Meaning “set of antlers” is first attested 1945, American English; hence slang sense of “a woman’s breasts” (especially if large), by 1991. Meaning “framework for displaying clothes” is from 1948; hence off the rack (1951) of clothing, as opposed to tailored.

    rack n.2

    type of gait of a horse, 1580s, from rack (v.) “move with a fast, lively gait” 1520s in this sense (implied in racking), of unknown origin; perhaps from French racquassure “racking of a horse in his pace,” itself of unknown origin. Or perhaps a variant of rock (v.1).

    rack n.3

    “clouds driven before the wind,” c.1300, also “rush of wind, collision, crash,” originally a northern word, possibly from Old English racu “cloud” (or an unrecorded Scandinavian cognate of it), reinforced by Old Norse rek “wreckage, jetsam,” or by influence of Old English wræc “something driven;” from Proto-Germanic *wrakaz, from PIE root *wreg- “to push, shove” (see wreak-). Often confused with wrack (n.), especially in phrase rack and ruin (1590s). The distinction is that rack is “driven clouds;” wrack is “seaweed cast up on shore.”

    rack v.

    “to stretch out for drying,” also “to torture on the rack,” early 15c., from rack (n.1). Of other pains from 1580s. Figurative sense of “to torment” is from c.1600. Meaning “raise above a fair level” (of rent, etc.) is from 1550s. Meaning “fit with racks” is from 1580s. Teenager slang meaning “to sleep” is from 1960s (rack (n.) was Navy slang for “bed” in 1940s). Related: Racked; racking. Rack up “register, accumulate, achieve” is first attested 1943 (in “Billboard”), probably from method of keeping score in pool halls.

    rack n.4

    “cut of animal meat and bones,” 1560s, of unknown origin; perhaps from some resemblance to rack (n.1). Cf. rack-bone “vertebrae” (1610s).

    Idioms and Phrases with rack-and-pinion rack

    In addition to the idioms beginning with rack

  • rack and ruin, go to
  • rack one’s brain
  • rack out
  • rack up
  • also see:

  • on the rack
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