Crack the Door
Posted by Neal on October 5, 2009
Sometimes at night, my wife will want to make sure that Doug and Adam aren’t woken up by the noise coming from our bedroom, so she’ll have me shut the door. We don’t want one of the boys walking in on us when we’re busy watching a movie or some of those TV shows I mentioned in my last post.
Still, she doesn’t want the door completely shut: She wants to be able to hear if Doug or Adam has any trouble, and of course the cats need to be able to wander in and out. Here’s where it gets strange. When she makes her request, she asks me to “crack the door” — when the door is already wide open.
I long ago got used to the idiom crack the door/window meaning “open it just a crack”, and not “damage it by putting a crack in it”. The OED has this as chiefly a US usage, with the earliest attestation from 1899. But in my English, you can only crack doors and windows that are shut, not ones that are open. The crack has to be the appearance of a gap, not the narrowing of an existing one. So who else out there can crack doors and windows that are already open?