What Does Crackpot Mean?

Crackpot Meaning

Definition: A person with illogical or wild ideas.

Origin of Crackpot

This expression sounds modern. Some people might assume it is related to drugs because crack and pot are both slang words for different drugs. However, it is actually is quite old and comes from another source entirely.

It developed from the combination of cracked and pot, and their original slang meanings. Something that is cracked is broken. In the 1600s, one of the slang meanings of cracked was a person with an impaired mind. This is because cracked was short for brain cracked.

The slang for pot goes back even further, all the way to the 1400s. Back then, it could mean head. Therefore, crackpot was another way to say impaired head.

When it first came onto the literary scene, this term appeared as cracked pot, then cracked-pot, then it eventually became crackpot.

In today’s English, crackpot can be used as a noun or an adjective.

  • You are a crackpot. (noun)
  • That is a crackpot idea. (adjective)

Examples of Crackpot

crackpot definitionThis example shows two coworkers who are discussing possibilities behind a series of strange events.

Regina: I keep hearing strange sounds coming from the ceiling whenever I’m alone at the office at night.

Ginny: Maybe the office is haunted.

Regina: I don’t want to hear your crackpot theories. Obviously, the office isn’t haunted. Probably someone leaves his or her music on overnight.

define crackpot In this example, two friends are talking about a new diet one of them is trying.

Kevin: Hey! You’re looking great these days.

Steve: Thank! I started a new diet.

Kevin: Oh yeah? What’s it called?

Steve: Actually, I don’t know if it has a name. Tim told me all about it, so I’ve just been following his advice.

Kevin: Are you serious? Tim is a crackpot. He believes aliens are reading his mind. You shouldn’t listen to anything he tells you.

Steve: I know he’s a little unstable, but his diet plan is great!

More Examples

This example is about a man who has unrealistic ideas about major events. Many people make fun of him or detest him for his ideas.

  • Fifteen years later, Jones’ crackpot conspiracy theories have drawn him into a slew of emotional controversies. This week, NBC News host Megyn Kelly faced a backlash when she released clips of an upcoming interview she conducted with the Infowars.com host. –USA Today

This quote is about the balance between free speech and allowing hate speech.

  • “Our doctrine on this says that we are more worried about the risk that the government will censor messages that it doesn’t like than we are worried about civility and crackpot ideas,” Kendrick said. –USA Today


The term crackpot is a derisive term for someone who has a mental illness, or has ideas that seem like nonsense.