• cracket •
kræ-ket • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Footstool, low wooden stool. 2. Box on which miners kneel when working a low seam.
Notes: In Scotland this kind of stool is called a crackie-stool (crackey-stool) or just a crackie (crackey). This word is such a lexical oddity it wasn't allowed to procreate.
In Play: The first sense of this word is far more often used: "Randolph, bring me that cracket over there; I can't quite reach the top shelf in this cabinet." Crackets make good shoe rests when you're cleaning your shoes: "Randolph, you've cleaned your shoes so many times on the cracket, it's covered with mud."
Word History: In the 16th century you could stand on a cricket, for the word referred to a footstool as well as to an insect. The pronunciation of this sense of the word then migrated from cricket to creket, ending up as cracket. The original cricket might also have been borrowed from Old French criquet "cricket", from criquer "to creak", probably an onomatopoetic creation, which always signifies the end of the etymological trail. Since wood glues were not as good those of the present day, the cricket stool probably creaked itself, reinforcing the pronunciation of the word. The final shift to cracket may have also been influenced by dialectal Norwegian krakk "footstool" and Swedish dialectal krakk "footstool, bench". Another possible influence is English crackle, another onomatopoetic creation. (Now, let's all thank Mary Jane Stoneburg, an editor of the Good Words for almost 20 years, for recommending today's rare but still a very Good Word.)
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