Brethren, this Saturday has been kind of a ball buster and your humble hostess finds herself using words that would make a sailor blush... or at least nod thoughtfully. Thus our word of the day, because that's exactly how I feel.
The word crank meaning the handle of something mechanical that is turned repeatedly, according to Websters, has the same Greek and Latin origins that the word cringe and crinkle have. But, from a nautical standpoint, the word is probably from the Anglo Saxon cranc or the Danish krank, both of which mean weak.
A ship is crank when, either due to the way she's built or because of the way her load and ballast are stored, she is prone to listing heavily to one side. Sailing ships can be crank because they are not laden with enough ballast and carrying sail in such a situation puts the vessel in danger of capsizing. Ships with deep and narrow hulls are virtually always crank.
The opposite of crank is stiff as in: "She is a stiff and weatherly ship." In lubber's terms she is capable of standing in the wind with all sail packed on. Just the thing to warm a seaman's heart.
It is not a certainty that our word cranky for someone who is grouchy and out of sorts - like me - is a direct result of the sea verbiage, but I imagine it as entirely possible. "The ship is crank and the Captain's cranky." Exactly.
What does cheer your humble hostess, however, is the lovely Danish tall ship Danmark pictured above. That and a mug of grog should make it all better.