n. & v.
n. 1 a a framework usu. with rails, bars, hooks, etc., for holding or storing things. b a frame for holding animal fodder. 2 a cogged or toothed bar or rail engaging with a wheel or pinion etc., or using pegs to adjust the position of something. 3 hist. an instrument of torture stretching the victim's joints by the turning of rollers to which the wrists and ankles were tied.
v.tr. 1 (of disease or pain) inflict suffering on. 2 hist. torture (a person) on the rack. 3 place in or on a rack. 4 shake violently. 5 injure by straining. 6 oppress (tenants) by exacting excessive rent. 7 exhaust (the land) by excessive use. on the rack in distress or under strain. rack one's brains make a great mental effort (racked my brains for something to say). rack-railway a railway with a cogged rail between the bearing rails. rack-rent n. 1 a high rent, annually equalling the full value of the property to which it relates. 2 an extortionate rent.
v.tr. exact this from (a tenant) or for (land). rack-renter a tenant paying or a landlord exacting an extortionate rent. rack-up US achieve (a score etc.). rack-wheel a cog-wheel.
[ ME rakke f. MDu., MLG rak, rek, prob. f. recken stretch ]