Meanings of “Crackpot”

The phrase “crackpot” refers to a crazy person or a crank. It also means an entirely brainless person or an idiot.

Origin of “Crackpot”

The phrase “crackpot” is stated to have originated from two words crack and pot. Some have attributed its origin to Crackpot village in Yorkshire in England, while others have attributed it to Crakepot, another village, having different spelling. However, its first recorded evidence is in hyphenated shape. It appeared in Broadside Ballad of John Farmer dating back to 1883 as:“My aunty knew lots, and called them crack-pots.” Over time, this hyphenated usage turned into de-hyphenated phrase.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

The Crackpot (For Jake Hassler) by Herbert Nehrlich

“The pot relaxed at those kind words
next trip he saw the pretty birds
and all the flowers, far and wide
it filled its heart with joy and pride.
The other end of the long pole
there hung the pot that was all whole,
he did ensure that they could drink
much water, also fill the sink.
His work was much appreciated
by some a trifle underrated,
but since the truth had been explained
all men and beast had newly gained
respect for all the various creatures
regardless of their obvious features.”

These are the last lines of a long poem which is titled after the phrase. The objective of the poem seems to remove the negativity associated with this phrase. The poet has stated that although there are two pots, an abbreviated form of the crackpot and a crackpot, he agrees that all must be respected regardless of their features;  both internal and external. The phrase shows its metaphorical representation through this poem.

Example #2

Crackpot History and the Right to Lie by Adam Ant

“People come people go, how long I’ll stay I just don’t know
When showbiz is a dirty word, I hope my time will come
Crackpot history and the right to lie.”

The singer has used the phrase in the title to show its significance. The lines indicate that the singer considers showbusiness a temporary world where people come and go. However, he thinks that there will be a time when idiots will also leave this show business world where now they are ruling the roost. The phrase is used as an extended metaphor in the last line that it will be history soon.

Example #3

Crackpot Adele Wiseman

The story of the novel comprises the character of Hoda, a prostitute of Jewish origin who left the USSR for Canada to find a peaceful life. Despite her professional life in the industry, she is very generous and kind-hearted. Yet in Canada, penury and misery do not stop chasing her. Her neighbors, too, turn against her, considering her a crackpot and cranky. Instead of projecting her crackpot nature, the novel showers sarcasm on the public hypocrisy and institutional bigotry. The phrase shows its use as an irony.

Example #4

The Names of Things: A Memoir by David Helwig

I was thinking as hard as I could about the issues as I understood them. My poets, of course, have had crackpot theories (Gwen MacEwen was fascinated by theosophy) and found them a way of ‘making its new’ but the value of a crackpot theory is as scaffolding, a way of climbing higher, and they are important for the way they allow a poet to achieve a unique voice. Followers are likely to be only that.

The author, while shedding light on some theoretical perspectives of past poetry, says that as he could not grasp these theories, but he arrived at the conclusion that they were just crackpots. Although they might not be correct or justifiable, he argues, adding that they provided poets with an impetus to move ahead in life. The phrase has been used without a hyphen, showing its adjectival meanings when used with theories.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “This crackpot has taken a small step of entering this forest but this is a giant leap for the coming generations.”

Example #2: “When Lionel heard that his name was associated with the word crackpot in the meeting, he immediately stormed into the room to find everyone silent, as if they said nothing.”

Example #3: “Although Jake knows nothing about that murder, this crackpot is almost correct about his predictions of the coming events.”

Example #4: Most of my friends have failed in the exams, but some crackpots have proved wise enough to resort to other means to pass the test.”

Example #5: “Ryle seems to be a real crackpot. His opinions and perceptions are enough proof of this conception.”