Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

What does ‘Frack’ Mean?

Fracking has been creeping into the news for the past few months, so I decided it was time to bring it up on the website. To frack is to fracture the rock surrounding a well to increase the flow of oil, gas, or other useful fluid by forcing some liquid under high pressure into cracks already there.

We should be careful not to confuse fracking with fragging, shooting one’s own officer during war and reporting the incident as death from enemy fire. That was a problem in the Vietnam War but does not seem to be one in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Interest in the gas reserves in the US has risen precipitously recently with the application of fracking, which allows profitable amounts of gas to be extracted from shale. Arkansas, however, where the practice is well under way, has suffered 800 earthquakes in the past six months and evidence points to the fracking in that state as the cause of them.

Fracking has been around since the 40s. It has been used widely by oil drillers. How many earthquakes it has precipitated—if any—is unknown, at least to the general public. If you are interested in where the word came from, you might be interested in the Good Word writeup.

One Response to “What does ‘Frack’ Mean?”

  1. Ben Trawick-Smith Says:

    Also not to be confused with “frak,” the invented Battlestar Galactica expletive.

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