Hypertext Webster Gateway: "wits"

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Rack \Rack\, v. t.
1. To extend by the application of force; to stretch or
strain; specifically, to stretch on the rack or wheel; to
torture by an engine which strains the limbs and pulls the

He was racked and miserably tormented. --Pope.

2. To torment; to torture; to affect with extreme pain or

Vaunting aloud but racked with deep despair.

3. To stretch or strain, in a figurative sense; hence, to
harass, or oppress by extortion.

The landlords there shamefully rack their tenants.

They [landlords] rack a Scripture simile beyond the
true intent thereof. --Fuller.

Try what my credit can in Venice do; That shall be
racked even to the uttermost. --Shak.

4. (Mining) To wash on a rack, as metals or ore.

5. (Naut.) To bind together, as two ropes, with cross turns
of yarn, marline, etc.

{To rack one's brains} or {wits}, to exert them to the utmost
for the purpose of accomplishing something.

Syn: To torture; torment; rend; tear.

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