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An instrument of torture consisting of a frame on which the victim was stretched by turning rollers to which the wrists and ankles were tied; it is first recorded in English in Caxton' translation of Reynard the Fox (1481), and is sometimes found in the expression come rack, come rope.

rack one's brains make a great effort to think of or remember something.

rack rent an extortionate or very high rent; in legal usage, a rent equal to or close to the annual value of the property. Recorded from the early 17th century, the expression was particularly associated with the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland by the publication in 1800 of Maria Edgeworth' novel Castle Rackrent.

Subjects: History.

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