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Prank vs Crank: Differences And Uses For Each One

Prank vs Crank: Differences And Uses For Each One

Pranks and cranks are two words that are often used interchangeably, but they actually have different meanings. So, which one is the proper word? The answer is that both words are proper, but they have different applications.

A prank is a practical joke or a mischievous act that is meant to be funny or entertaining. Pranks are usually harmless and are done in good fun. On the other hand, a crank is someone who is eccentric or odd. A crank is often seen as a difficult or unreasonable person who is hard to deal with.

While pranks and cranks may seem unrelated, they are actually connected in that they both involve behavior that is outside of the norm. In this article, we will explore the differences between pranks and cranks, and why it’s important to understand the distinction between the two.

Define Prank

A prank is a playful or mischievous act that is intended to be harmless and amusing. It is usually done for the purpose of entertainment and often involves a surprise element. Pranks can range from simple jokes and tricks to elaborate hoaxes and stunts. They are often performed among friends or colleagues and are meant to be enjoyed by all parties involved.

Pranks can take many forms, including physical pranks, such as putting a whoopee cushion on someone’s chair, or more elaborate pranks, such as staging a fake news report.

While pranks are generally harmless, they can sometimes go too far and cause harm or distress to the target. It is important to ensure that pranks are done in good fun and do not cross the line into bullying or harassment.

Define Crank

A crank is a person who behaves in a strange or eccentric manner, often with an obsessive or irrational focus on a particular topic or issue. Cranks are often seen as odd or eccentric, and their behavior can be seen as disruptive or annoying.

Cranks can be found in many areas of life, including politics, science, and religion. They often hold extreme or unconventional views and are unwilling to listen to opposing viewpoints or evidence that contradicts their beliefs.

While cranks can be entertaining or amusing in small doses, their behavior can become tiresome or even harmful if it begins to interfere with the lives of others. It is important to treat cranks with respect and understanding, but also to set boundaries if their behavior becomes too disruptive or harmful.

How To Properly Use The Words In A Sentence

When it comes to the words prank and crank, they are often used interchangeably. However, there is a distinct difference between the two that should be noted. In this section, we will discuss how to properly use the words in a sentence to avoid any confusion.

How To Use “Prank” In A Sentence

Prank is a noun that refers to a mischievous act or practical joke that is intended to cause amusement. Here are some examples of how to use prank in a sentence:

  • He played a prank on his coworker by putting a fake spider in her desk drawer.
  • The students pulled a prank on their teacher by switching the contents of his coffee mug with hot sauce.
  • She was known for her elaborate pranks on April Fool’s Day.

As you can see, prank is used to describe a playful and harmless act that is meant to be funny.

How To Use “Crank” In A Sentence

Crank is a noun that refers to a person who is eccentric or ill-tempered. It can also be used as a verb to describe the act of turning a handle or lever. Here are some examples of how to use crank in a sentence:

  • He’s such a crank, always complaining about everything.
  • The old car required a lot of effort to crank the engine.
  • She used a crank to open the window.

As you can see, crank is used to describe a person’s behavior or an action that requires physical effort.

More Examples Of Prank & Crank Used In Sentences

Understanding the proper use of words like prank and crank is essential to effective communication. Here are some examples of how these words can be used in sentences:

Examples Of Using Prank In A Sentence

  • He played a prank on his sister by hiding her phone.
  • The students pulled a prank on their teacher by switching the desks around.
  • She didn’t find it funny when her coworkers played a prank on her by putting a fake spider on her chair.
  • The prankster thought it was hilarious to put a whoopee cushion on his friend’s chair.
  • They decided to play a prank on their boss by filling his office with balloons.
  • He got in trouble for pulling a prank on his neighbor by putting a fake parking ticket on their car.
  • The team captain played a prank on the new player by telling him the game had been canceled.
  • She couldn’t stop laughing when her friend played a prank on her by pretending to be a telemarketer.
  • The kids thought it was funny to play a prank on their dad by putting salt in his coffee instead of sugar.
  • He pulled a prank on his roommate by putting a fake spider in his bed.

Examples Of Using Crank In A Sentence

  • He had to use a crank to start the old car.
  • The machine wouldn’t work without turning the crank.
  • She was able to open the window by using the crank.
  • The mechanic needed a crank to fix the engine.
  • He had to turn the crank to lower the jack.
  • The old gramophone required a crank to play music.
  • She used the crank to adjust the height of the table.
  • The farmer used a crank to lift the bales of hay onto the truck.
  • He had to use a crank to open the heavy gate.
  • The antique coffee grinder needed a crank to grind the beans.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

When it comes to using the words “prank” and “crank,” many people make the mistake of using them interchangeably. However, these two words have different meanings and should not be used in place of one another. Here are some common mistakes people make when using prank and crank interchangeably:

Mistake 1: Using “Prank” And “Crank” As Synonyms

One of the most common mistakes people make is using “prank” and “crank” as synonyms. While both words are used to describe a mischievous act, they have different connotations. A prank is usually harmless and done for fun, while a crank is more malicious and often done with the intent to harm or annoy someone.

Mistake 2: Using “Prank” To Describe A Serious Situation

Another mistake people make is using “prank” to describe a serious situation. For example, if someone calls in a bomb threat as a joke, it is not a prank. It is a serious crime that can result in severe consequences. Using the word “prank” in this situation downplays the severity of the act and can be offensive to those affected.

Mistake 3: Using “Crank” To Describe A Harmless Joke

On the other hand, using “crank” to describe a harmless joke is also a mistake. While a crank is a type of prank, it has a negative connotation that implies malicious intent. Using “crank” to describe a harmless joke can make it seem more mean-spirited than it actually is.

To avoid making these mistakes in the future, here are some tips:

Tip 1: Understand The Meanings Of Each Word

Before using either word, make sure you understand their meanings. Look up the definitions and examples of each word to get a better understanding of when and how to use them.

Tip 2: Consider The Context

Think about the situation and the intent behind the act before using either word. If it is a harmless joke, use “prank.” If it is a malicious act, use “crank.”

Tip 3: Use Alternative Words

If you are unsure which word to use or if you want to avoid using either word, consider using alternative words such as “joke,” “gag,” or “hoax.”

Context Matters

Choosing between the terms “prank” and “crank” can depend on the context in which they are used. While both words imply some sort of practical joke or mischievous behavior, there are subtle differences in their meanings that can affect their usage.

Examples Of Different Contexts

Let’s take a look at some examples of different contexts and how the choice between prank and crank might change:

Context Prank Crank
Social Media A harmless prank video that goes viral A malicious crank call or message that causes harm or distress
Workplace A harmless prank on a co-worker that doesn’t affect productivity or safety A dangerous crank that damages equipment or puts someone’s safety at risk
Family A playful prank on a sibling or parent A mean-spirited crank that causes emotional harm or damage to property

As you can see, the choice between prank and crank can depend on the potential harm or impact of the behavior. In general, a prank is seen as harmless and playful, while a crank is more malicious and harmful.

Exceptions To The Rules

While the rules for using prank and crank are generally straightforward, there are a few exceptions where they might not apply. Here are some examples:

Medical Terminology

In medical terminology, the word “crank” is often used to describe a device that is used to turn or rotate something. For example, a “crankshaft” is a component of an engine that converts linear motion into rotational motion. In this context, using the word “prank” instead of “crank” would be incorrect and confusing.

Regional Dialects

In some regional dialects, the words “prank” and “crank” may be used interchangeably or have slightly different meanings. For example, in some parts of the United States, “crank” is used to describe a person who is irritable or easily angered, while “prank” is used to describe a mischievous act. In these cases, it’s important to understand the local context and use the appropriate word accordingly.

Figurative Language

When using figurative language, the rules for using prank and crank may not apply. For example, if you were writing a poem and wanted to use the word “prank” to describe a playful breeze, it would be perfectly acceptable to do so. Similarly, if you were writing a story and wanted to describe a character as “cranky,” it would be appropriate to use that word even if it doesn’t refer to a device or mechanism.

Overall, while the rules for using prank and crank are generally straightforward, there are some exceptions where they may not apply. By understanding these exceptions and using the appropriate word in each context, you can ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and effective.

Practice Exercises

Now that we’ve explored the differences between “prank” and “crank,” it’s time to put our knowledge into practice. Below are some exercises to help you improve your understanding and use of these words in sentences. Each exercise comes with an answer key or explanation to help you check your work and learn from any mistakes.

Exercise 1: Fill In The Blank

Choose the correct word (prank or crank) to fill in the blank in each sentence.

  1. My brother loves to _______ call me in the middle of the night.
  2. Yesterday, my friends played a _______ on me by hiding my phone.
  3. My neighbor is always _______ up his music too loud.
  4. My little sister is always playing _______ phone games.
  5. That old car is hard to start because the _______ is broken.

Answer Key:

  1. crank
  2. prank
  3. cranking
  4. prank
  5. crank

Exercise 2: Identify The Correct Word

Read each sentence and identify whether the correct word is “prank” or “crank.”

Sentence Correct Word
My friends set up a fake spider to scare me. prank
The machine won’t start because the lever is broken. crank
He’s always complaining about something. crank
She left a whoopee cushion on my chair. prank
The old man was turning the handle to start the car. crank

Explanation: In sentences 1, 2, 4, and 5, “prank” is the correct word because it refers to a playful trick or joke. In sentence 3, “crank” is the correct word because it means to complain or be irritable.


After exploring the differences between pranks and cranks, it is clear that these two terms have distinct meanings and should not be used interchangeably. A prank is a harmless joke or trick played on someone for amusement, while a crank is an eccentric or ill-tempered person who is difficult to deal with.

It is important to use language correctly and precisely, especially in professional and academic settings. Misusing words can lead to confusion and miscommunication, which can have serious consequences.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pranks are harmless jokes or tricks played on someone for amusement.
  • Cranks are eccentric or ill-tempered people who are difficult to deal with.
  • Using language correctly and precisely is important to avoid confusion and miscommunication.

By continuing to learn about grammar and language use, readers can improve their communication skills and avoid common mistakes.