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1. a decorated cardboard tube that emits a bang when pulled apart, releasing a toy, a joke, or a paper hat
2. US another word for poor White



a cookie prepared from wheat flour, shortening, and yeast; it has a bubbly surface and a porous, crisp texture. Crackers, depending on the variety, may also contain added chemical looseners, milk, chocolate, sugar, caraway, and other ingredients.


An individual who attempts to gain unauthorised access to a computer system. These individuals are often malicious and have many means at their disposal for breaking into a system. The term was coined ca. 1985 by hackers in defence against journalistic misuse of "hacker". An earlier attempt to establish "worm" in this sense around 1981--82 on Usenet was largely a failure.

Use of both these neologisms reflects a strong revulsion against the theft and vandalism perpetrated by cracking rings. The neologism "cracker" in this sense may have been influenced not so much by the term "safe-cracker" as by the non-jargon term "cracker", which in Middle English meant an obnoxious person (e.g., "What cracker is this same that deafs our ears / With this abundance of superfluous breath?" -- Shakespeare's King John, Act II, Scene I) and in modern colloquial American English survives as a barely gentler synonym for "white trash".

While it is expected that any real hacker will have done some playful cracking and knows many of the basic techniques, anyone past larval stage is expected to have outgrown the desire to do so except for immediate practical reasons (for example, if it's necessary to get around some security in order to get some work done).

Contrary to widespread myth, cracking does not usually involve some mysterious leap of hackerly brilliance, but rather persistence and the dogged repetition of a handful of fairly well-known tricks that exploit common weaknesses in the security of target systems. Accordingly, most crackers are only mediocre hackers.

Thus, there is far less overlap between hackerdom and crackerdom than the mundane reader misled by sensationalistic journalism might expect. Crackers tend to gather in small, tight-knit, very secretive groups that have little overlap with the huge, open hacker poly-culture; though crackers often like to describe *themselves* as hackers, most true hackers consider them a separate and lower form of life, little better than virus writers. Ethical considerations aside, hackers figure that anyone who can't imagine a more interesting way to play with their computers than breaking into someone else's has to be pretty losing.

See also Computer Emergency Response Team, dark-side hacker, hacker ethic, phreaking, samurai, Trojan Horse.


(1) A person who breaks into a computer system without authorization, whose purpose is to do damage (destroy files, steal credit card numbers, plant viruses, etc.). Because a cracker uses low-level hacker skills to do the cracking, the terms "cracker" and "hacker" have become synonymous with the latter becoming the predominant term. See hacker, ECPA, CFA and virus.

(2) A person who reverse engineers software and modifies it for fun. The term often applies to game software. See disassembler.
References in periodicals archive ?
Aintree's head baker, John Roughneen, has baked over 139,840 tonnes of cream crackers in his career at the Liverpool factory - laid side by side, that's enough to reach the moon three times.
net BRINGING together the ultra-effective Overnight Facial Serum with the uber-moisturising Intense Hydrating Booster, Sarah Chapman's shiny silver Merry & Bright Cracker will delight skincare obsessives.
JOHN LEWIS FLYING SPROUT CRACKERS, SET OF SIX, PS6 THESE family crackers come with a flying sprout gameboard .
IT'S A CRACKER: 6/10 12 Family Crackers, Sainsbury's, PS4 Shiny and simple with cheap and cheerful gifts ranging from a heart key ring to tiny playing cards, very flimsy hats that do fit adult heads and the usual cheesy jokes.
Whole-grain crackers that are gluten-free (GF) also can be tricky to find.
In addition, bite-sized [is] also a trend with cookies and crackers since people find them convenient to snack [on] in the office or on the go, or send small portions with kids to school every day.
But this year his pictures are hardly being used by the manufacturers to sell their products," said Minhaz Alam, a shopkeeper in Machharhatta, a cracker market hub.
Crackers stored in the safe are the Safe crackers as opposed to the Shipped or Shelf crackers, or the crackers baking in the kitchen.
I have bought crackers from here, I have also bought gun, rocket and Chinese crackers.
The Kashi Heart to Heart Whole Grain Crackers box is awash in claims.
So there is bound to be something to keep everyone happy at the dinner table and each cracker also contains a hat and a joke.