So, this is an Italian asking about Italian non-Latin jargon.

I have no idea why in Italian we say "person X is a crac" if this person is expected to do great things in the future... I guess "crac" is the term we would have used to describe Messi, and what to expect from him, at the very beginning of his career, or for Pulisic, who is one of the best US soccer players ever, now playing for Chelsea and still just 20 years old.

I would certainly know when to use this word, but I do not find it in the dictionary (see for instance the Treccani) and I do not know how to write it (I can only assume it is written "crac"). I am clueless concerning its etymology too. I swear I have heard it very many times, even on TV, and especially applied to the sports context.

Someone with some clues about how to write it, where it comes from and its precise definition (possibly with a reference)?

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    Crack, like in English where it comes from – egreg Aug 31 '19 at 5:54
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    I have never heard about this expression in Italian. Curiously, I have heard it is Spain, especially among younger people. Did you happen to find any written source (e.g. blog post) where the term is used? Is it mostly a verbal expression? – Easymode44 Aug 31 '19 at 6:24
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    Welcome to Italian.SE! Note that you can also write your questions in Italian if you want. – Charo Aug 31 '19 at 7:36
  • I've seen it in Spanish and Catalan in these same contexts and with the same meaning spelled "crack". In fact, one still uses the word "crack" to talk about Messi to mean a player of exceptional quality. – Charo Aug 31 '19 at 7:56
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    «in Italian we say "person X is a crac"»: in italiano è difficile che uno dica “person X is crac” [a prescindere dall'ortografia di “crac”]; forse qualcuno dice “la persona X è crac”. – DaG Aug 31 '19 at 10:19

At Grande dizionario della lingua italiana you can find the voice "crack" with this meaning:

Nel poker, nel bridge, ecc., giocatore molto abile, ritenuto imbattibile.
      = Voce ingl., propr. ‘eccellente’.

So, as mentioned by @egreg in his comment, you should to spell it "crack". Notice that this dictionary says that it comes from English "crack" meaning "eccellente" in Italian.

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  • Thank you! Very interesting! – Fuca26 Aug 31 '19 at 22:46

As @Charo mentioned, the word crack does come from English. This question on another SE website explores the question a little further. The origin of the word can be traced back to 1793 apparently.

In Italian, I would dare suggest that the usage has greatly increased in sports context because of the big presence of Spanish speaking players/coaches/managers. This can be seen by how the ones using the expression in @Charo's links in the comment section of the question are all soccer coaches/managers from countries where Spanish is the first language (in these two cases, Zanetti and Pochettino, Argentinians). Having lived many years in Spain, and looking at other people's inputs, the usage of the term appears to be much more diffused in Spanish-speaking countries.

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  • Oh uao, that other question you posted is fun to read! Thanks a a lot! – Fuca26 Aug 31 '19 at 22:47

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