on the rack


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on the rack

Suffering from great stress or anxiety; in a very difficult or stressful position. The whole family was on the rack waiting for the doctors to give them an update. They had the reigning champions on the rack for first half of the game.
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Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

on the rack

Under great stress, as in I was on the rack while I waited for the test results. This expression, alluding to a medieval instrument of torture to which the victim was fastened and stretched, has been used figuratively since the late 1500s. Shakespeare had it in The Merchant of Venice (3:2): "Let me choose, for as I am I live upon the rack."
See also: on, rack
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

on the rack

mainly BRITISH
If someone is on the rack, they are in a very difficult situation, often one in which they are suffering anxiety or distress. With ministers again on the rack over this new scandal, you have to wonder how long this government will last. She and Michael listened closely, on the rack of apprehension. Note: You can also say that you put someone on the rack. We were fairly evenly matched in the first half of the game but we really put them on the rack in the second half. Note: The rack was an instrument of torture which was used in the past. Prisoners were tied to the rack, and their arms and legs were stretched until they confessed or told secrets, or died.
See also: on, rack
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

on the rack

suffering intense distress or strain.
See also: on, rack
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

on the ˈrack

in a state of anxiety, stress, pain, etc: After three weeks had passed and she had still not heard from her daughter, Joan was on the rack.The rack was an instrument of torture, used in the past for punishing and hurting people. Their arms and legs were tied to a wooden frame and then pulled in opposite directions, stretching the body.
See also: on, rack
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

on the rack

Under great stress.
See also: on, rack
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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