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crook Syllabification: crook
Pronunciation: /kro͝ok/

Definition of crook in English:


1The hooked staff of a shepherd.
Example sentences
  • Every year more and more shepherds hang up their crooks.
  • Reaper stood calmly with the base of his scythe planted on the ground, looking like a shepherd with his crook.
  • The shepherd's crook is not for beating the sheep, but for catching hold of them if they go into danger where the shepherd's arm can't reach them.
1.1A bishop’s crozier.
Example sentences
  • Dressed in full regalia with mitre and crook, Bishop David then led a prayer of thanks for the new school and everyone who worked and studied in it.
  • Instead the Mitchell brothers are generally busy making crooks for bishops and hikers.
  • Now I find myself completely unmoved by badges of hierarchy, of mitres and crooks and crowns.
1.2A bend in something, especially at the elbow in a person’s arm: her head was cradled in the crook of Luke’s left arm
More example sentences
  • I tapped a vein in the crook of my elbow to demonstrate.
  • That's not as easy a task as it was when I was a young man, but there one was, neatly in the crook of my elbow.
  • I started getting patches of it in the crook of my elbows, on my neck and around my eyes.
bend, fork, curve, angle
1.3A piece of extra tubing that can be fitted to a brass instrument to lower the pitch by a set interval.
Example sentences
  • Early in the 18th century, horns began to be made on which separate coils of tubing of different lengths, called crooks, could be inserted at the mouthpipe to give the horn a different key.
  • Further notes became available when added lengths of tube, known as crooks or shanks, could be fitted.
1.4A metal tube on which the reed of some wind instruments (such as the bassoon) is set.
2 informal A person who is dishonest or a criminal.
Example sentences
  • Bernie's team work hard to catch thieves, whether car crooks or shoplifters.
  • The majority of prisoners are crooks, thugs, murderers and rapists, who took the lives of people and did irreparable damage to women and young girls.
  • The sport, if that's what it is, has seen way more than its fair share of gangsters and con men and other crooks.
rogue, scoundrel, shyster, cheat, scam artist, swindler, racketeer, confidence trickster, snake oil salesman;
thief, robber, burglar
informal shark, con man, con, jailbird, hood, yardbird
Law malfeasant


[with object] Back to top  
Bend (something, especially a finger as a signal): he crooked a finger for the waitress
More example sentences
  • ‘Don't put your filthy hands on it,’ I said crooking a finger at her.
  • ‘Come with me,’ she said calmly, crooking her finger at him, turning and walking down the corridor.
  • Caroline stopped walking and turned to her husband, crooking her finger.
cock, flex, bend, curve, curl


Australian/New Zealand informal Back to top  
1(Especially of a situation) bad, unpleasant, or unsatisfactory: it was pretty crook on the land in the early 1970s
More example sentences
  • So laughter is the answer to all the crook things that happen.
  • This is about units in the normal market, which are regarded by many as a crook investment at the best of times.
  • We had a bad phone call at about 1.30 in the morning and after that have had a couple of crook letters.
1.1(Of a person or a part of the body) unwell or injured: a crook knee
More example sentences
  • Michael came to Britain when his frail crook father returned and gave himself up in May, after 35 years on the run.
  • ‘I'm not a doctor but if blokes are crook they should stay home,’ he said.
  • And despite battling a weak heart and a crook knee, Donald can't see himself giving away his volunteer work anytime soon.
1.2Dishonest; illegal: some pretty crook things went on there
[ Late 19th century: abbreviation of crooked]
More example sentences
  • For the most part, this is true; nobody really needs a third party to inform them that their boss is a crook bastard.


Middle English (in the sense 'hooked tool or weapon'): from Old Norse krókr 'hook'. A noun sense 'deceit, guile, trickery' (compare with crooked) was recorded in Middle English but was obsolete by the 17th century.

  • A crook was originally a hooked tool or weapon. The source is Old Norse krokr ‘hook’. The word used to mean ‘dishonest trick, guile’ in medieval English, and although this sense had fallen from use by the 17th century it gave rise to villains being known as crooks in late 19th-century America. In Australia and New Zealand crook has meant ‘bad, unpleasant’, ‘dishonest, unscrupulous’, and ‘ill, unwell’ since the late 1890s. These uses might come from the old British thieves' slang sense ‘stolen’.



Pronunciation: /ˈkro͝okərē/
Example sentences
  • The Guardian summarised these difficulties rather well: ‘Missing [but not kidnapped or murdered] children, jealous spouses, petty crookery, ostrich rustling and beauty contest corruption.’
  • When we each get up to our particular bit of crookery and deviousness we don't say, ‘I'm stealing or cheating’ we say ‘I'm beating the system.’
  • Our adult children now all do their banking on the internet and are happy to take their chances with electronic crookery, but I am of the old school who likes to see the whites of a teller's eyes when making a deposit.

Words that rhyme with crook

betook, book, brook, Brooke, Chinook, chook, Coke, cook, Cooke, forsook, Gluck, hook, look, mistook, nook, partook, rook, schnook, schtuck, Shilluk, shook, Tobruk, took, undercook, undertook

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