Helping Learners Understand Spoken English

Crack Phrases

Not all it’s cracked up to be

If something is not all it’s cracked up to be, it is not as good as expected. It is common to use not all it’s cracked up to be when something is not as impressive as people claim. It is like saying something is not as good as people say it is. We use it to express disappointment about something.

cracked up sign

Why Crack?

While more common in British English than American English, one meaning of crack (as an adjective) is very good. If you have a cracking good time, you have a really great time.

Things that might not be all they’re cracked up to be

The following things have the potential to be disappointing:

  • a movie, show, or play
  • a book
  • a tourist destination
  • a job
  • a relationship
  • a restaurant
  • a meal
  • a person

Those are some common examples of things you can use this phrase with. Pretty much anything that someone might say is very good, but that you think is not so good, could be described as being not all it’s cracked up to be.

Situations where we could say it’s not all it’s cracked up to be:

  • I can’t believe American Sniper was #1 on the New York Time’s Best Seller list. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
  • That popular tourist destination is not all it’s cracked up to be. Even in winter it’s too hot and full of tourists, but the food is amazing.
  • The restaurant has excellent reviews, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
  • Being a stay-at-home mom is not all it’s cracked up to be.
  • He didn’t think the carnival was all it was cracked up to be.

Alternatives to not all it’s cracked up to be

  • disappointing –> The carnival was disappointing. or The carnival was a huge disappointment.
  • a let down –> The ending (of a book) was a let down. or The ending was a major let down.
  • nothing to write home about –> The food was nothing to write home about.

Crack is a word with many meanings.

Here are common phrases that use the word crack:

  • To take/have a crack at something is to try something.
  • To crack a joke is to tell a joke.
  • To crack a case is to solve a case (mystery).
  • To crack a book is to open it and read it.
  • To crack a safe is to successfully break into it.
  • To crack a vase is to break it.
  • To crack a smile is to smile after having a serious expression on your face.
  • To crack up is to burst into laughter OR to have an emotional breakdown.
  • To crack someone up is to make them laugh.
  • To crack under pressure is to lose control in a stressful situation.
  • To crack open a cold one is to open a beer.
  • To crack a door or window is to open it slightly.
  • If something falls through the cracks, it is overlooked or neglected.

Those are just some of the many uses of the word crack. If you look up crack in a dictionary, you’ll find even more.

Additional Reading

Check out idioms like the end is in sight, hang in there, and more.

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