Slang City Mail

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December 23, 2004

Slang of the Week: crank (noun)
1. Crystal Methamphetamine (street drug), often shortened to “crystal meth”
2. bad tempered person

Jeff the tweaker gave all his druggy friends homemade crank for Christmas.

Celebrity quote:
“The name crank came about because they used to transport it in the crank shaft of their bikes,”
-Steve Freng, prevention treatment manager for the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area in Seattle, Washington

This week’s word came to me because of the current movie Christmas with the Kranks (a play on the word's second meaning). Freng’s explanation of its history is certainly picturesque, but it isn't necessarily true. The comparison between cars and bodies is an old one and people excited on drugs have long been called cranked up. (Early cars were started by turning a crank handle.)

What’s interesting about the non-drug use of the term is that it was an ordinary word that became a fictional character’s name in a movie. More often, cranky characters like Scrooge or the Grinch Who Stole Christmas start out in fiction and work their way into everyday conversation.

The Kranks movie, which was badly received by the critics, tells the story of a couple who decide not to celebrate Christmas, to the complete horror of their neighbors. That would never happen where I live. In Somerville, we have so many houses gaudily decorated with holiday lights that the Arts Council makes money by sponsoring a tour of them. Slang City will be taking a break next week but we’ll see you in 2005!

What’s new at Slang City?
Have you ever wanted an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle more than anything else in the world? Translated quotes from America's Favorite Christmas Movie (or at least mine).