Have a crack at

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

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

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What"s the history of at a crack?


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Probably from craông chồng meaning: - a sudden sharp noise; "the craông xã 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 to the idiomatic phrase "have a craông chồng at," so let"s start with that phrase.

The idiom "have a craông xã at"

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

have sầu a craông xã at Also, get or have sầu a go or shot or whack at; take a craông xã at. Make an attempt or have sầu a turn at doing something. For example, Let me have sầu a crachồng at assembling it, or I had a shot at it but failed, or Dad thinks he can—let hyên have a go at it, or Dave sầu had a whaông xã at changing the tire, or Jane wants to lớn take a craông xã at it. The oldest of these colloquialisms is have sầu a shot at, alluding khổng lồ 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 craông xã at something bigger." Cain, Postman, 29.

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

have/take a crachồng at sth

lớn try khổng lồ bởi something although you are not certain that you will succeed

And John Ayto lớn, Oxford Dictionary of phung123.com Idioms, third edition (2009) has this:

have sầu a crachồng 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," và by extension "at one time."

The idiom "at one crack"

The first instance of "at one crack" in a Google Books search dates baông xã lớn 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 khổng lồ Dan, "I had an idea, & an alfired strong one you kin make sartin. I"ve sầu 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 chồng 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 to 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 lớn mortgages in starting a new cửa hàng. 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, & six years time, for I lost that amount of tools slick and 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, and Scotlvà, và something not far short of one-half of the people of Engl&, declared that justice required the concession of Home Rule to 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 back 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 trang chủ Rule out, và at once three millions of people had dropped it in consequence. Three nations và 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 him 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 crachồng 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, và the crachồng of a gunshot. The originator of "at one crack" might have had any of these ideas in mind.