/ ræk; NAmE / noun , verb
(often in compounds) a piece of equipment, usually made of metal or wooden bars, that is used for holding things or for hanging things on :
a vegetable / wine / plate / toast rack
I looked through a rack of clothes at the back of the shop.
—picture at laboratory
—see also luggage rack , roof rack
(usually the rack ) an instrument of torture , used in the past for punishing and hurting people. Their arms and legs were tied to the wooden frame and then pulled in opposite directions, stretching the body.
rack of lamb / pork a particular piece of meat that includes the front ribs and is cooked in the oven
a part of a machine that consists of a bar with parts that a wheel or gear can fit into
- go to rack and ruin
- off the rack
- on the rack
(also less frequent wrack ) [ vn ] [ often passive ] to make sb suffer great physical or mental pain :
to be racked with / by guilt
Her face was racked with pain.
Violent sobs racked her whole body.
( BrE )
a racking cough
- rack your brain(s)
- rack up sth
noun senses 1 to 2 and verb Middle English : from Middle Dutch rec , Middle Low German rek horizontal bar or shelf, probably from recken to stretch, reach.
noun sense 3 late 16th cent.: of unknown origin.