Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Topic: DAILY LIFE

Sense: 1-3,5-7
Date: 1300-1400
Language: Middle Dutch
Origin: rec 'frame'
Sense: 4
Origin: Old English wræc 'unhappiness, punishment'

rack

1 noun
     
rack1 [countable]
1DT a frame or shelf that has bars or hooks on which you can put things:
a wine rack
a magazine rack
luggage rack, roof-rack
2

the rack

SHSC a piece of equipment that was used in the past to make people suffer severe pain by stretching their bodies:
Thousands of people were tortured on the rack.
3

on the rack

British English informal in a very difficult situation:
The company is now well and truly on the rack.
4

go to rack and ruin

if a building goes to rack and ruin, it gradually gets into a very bad condition because no one has looked after it:
The house had been left to go to rack and ruin.
5 American English a three-sided frame used for arranging the balls at the start of a game of snooker or pool
6

a rack of lamb/pork

DFF a fairly large piece of meat from the side of an animal, that contains several rib bones
7

off the rack

American English if you can buy something off the rack, you can buy it in a shop rather than having it specially made [= off the peg British English]
A lot of designer clothes are now available off the rack.
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