Have a crack

The phrase at a crack is sometimes used to lớn mean at one time. For example §§:

Companies that have sầu had generations of employees growing up under a no-layoff policy are now dumping 10,000 people onto lớn the street at a crack.

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What"s the history of at a crack?



Probably from crack meaning: - a sudden sharp noise; "the crack of a whip"; "he heard the cracking of the ice"; "he can hear the snap of a twig" –user66974 Dec 19 "14 at 16:06
I suspect that "at a crack" is closely connected lớn the idiomatic phrase "have a crachồng at," so let"s start with that phrase.

The idiom "have a crachồng at"

From Christine Ammer, American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms (1996):

have sầu a crack at Also, get or have a go or shot or whaông xã at; take a crachồng at. Make an attempt or have sầu a turn at doing something. For example, Let me have sầu a crack at assembling it, or I had a shot at it but failed, or Dad thinks he can—let hlặng have a go at it, or Dave sầu had a whack at changing the tire, or Jane wants to take a craông xã at it. The oldest of these colloquialisms is have sầu a shot at, alluding lớn firing a gun & first recorded in 1756; crack and go date from the 1830s, & whack from the late 1800s.

Likewise, Harold Wentworth & Stuart Flexner, Dictionary of American Slang (1960) has this:

crack ... n. ... 3 A try at some undertaking whether large or small. 1934: "...To take a crachồng at something bigger." Cain, Postman, 29.

The Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms (1998) includes entries for both "have/take a craông xã at" & "get a crachồng at"—the latter entry without a definition. Here is the former entry:

have/take a crachồng at sth

to try lớn do something although you are not certain that you will succeed

And John Ayto lớn, Oxford Dictionary of nayaritas.net Idioms, third edition (2009) has this:

have sầu a craông xã at make an attempt at doing, achieving or winning (something).

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The complementary phrase "at one crack" or "at a crack" would therefore mean "in a single shot or attempt or turn," & by extension "at one time."

The idiom "at one crack"

The first instance of "at one crack" in a Google Books tìm kiếm dates baông xã khổng lồ 1872. From Lyman Abbot, Laicus: Or, The Experiences of a Layman in a Country Parish (1872):

There are a few treaties that are worth reading & re-reading ; but they are exceptional. Generally the student gets the gist of a book in one reading, as a squirrel the kernel of a nut at one crack. What remains on his shelves thereafter is only a shell.

From The Nickel Library (1877 ):

"Well, kurnel," said the red-bearded man, turning to Dan, "I had an idea, và an alfired strong one you kin make sartin. I"ve heard o" you boys often, & when the time came that I needed help, my mind went right to lớn ye, và I swore I"d hev no others. Faông xã is. boys, the time has arrived wen ye kin make yer fortunes all at one crack.

From "Hard Luck!" in The Mechanical Engineer (September 30, 1882):

Allow m khổng lồ thank the writer of "The Professor in the Machine Shop" article for his warning against partners, his able and manly language generally., and especially his objection to lớn mortgages in starting a new shop. My experience tallies exactly with his danger signal. If he had only written these articles about six years ago I should have been $6,000 better off, and six years time, for I lost that amount of tools sliông xã và clean at one crack, just like a lightning stroke, & have been struggling lớn get over it ever since.

Also of note, from "First Session of the Council," in National Liberal Federation, Proceedings at the Annual Meeting of the Council of the National Liberal Federation (January 17, 1895) :

In 1892 a majority of the people of Irelvà, Wales, & Scotland, and something not far short of one-half of the people of Englvà, declared that justice required the concession of Home Rule to lớn Irelvà as the first step of the incoming Government. That was only two years ago, & now they were told that they had dropped that policy & that they had gone baông xã upon it, simply, it appeared, because an obstacle had been interposed in the shape of a ricketty old institution known as the House of Lords. The House of Lords had thrown Home Rule out, & at once three millions of people had dropped it in consequence. Three nations & a-half cowered at one crack of a lordly whip. What a picture of British pluck!

And from A. Leamy, "A Day"s Fox Hunting Vermont," in Hunter-Trader-Trapper (July 1912):

I had waited perhaps twenty minutes when I saw hlặng coming with great leaps about a rod long. Now, the thought arose, will he come in the same place or won"t he? He finally decided he would và when about eight rods off I let drive sầu, dropping hyên at one crack.

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Aside from the purely metaphorical uses of "at one crack" in these early examples, we have four instances where the craông xã is treated as part a simile or as an actual sound: the cracking of a nut (by a squirrel), the craông xã of a lightning bolt, the cracking of a whip, & the crack of a gunshot. The originator of "at one crack" might have sầu had any of these ideas in mind.