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  • Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Rack-rent răk"rĕnt` A rent of the full annual value of the tenement, or near it; an excessive or unreasonably high rent.
    • v. t Rack-rent To subject to rack-rent, as a farm or tenant.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n rack-rent A rent raised to the highest possible limit; a rent greater than any tenant can reasonably be expected to pay: used especially of land-rents in Ireland.
    • rack-rent To subject to the payment of rack-rent.
    • rack-rent To impose rack-rents.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Rack-rent an annual rent stretched to the utmost value of the thing rented, exorbitant rent
    • ***


Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
The radical sense is to stretch, closely allied to reach (q.v.); cf. Ice. rakkr, straight, Ger. rack, a rail, recken, to stretch.


In literature:

And those over yonder, why should they build fences on the rack-rented land?
"The Souls of Black Folk" by W. E. B. Du Bois
O poor writhing, rack-rent victim!
"The Virginians" by William Makepeace Thackeray
Here appears to be a case, not of rack-renting, but of absenteeism.
"Ireland Under Coercion (2nd ed.) (1 of 2) (1888)" by William Henry Hurlbert
Nobody has ever had the face to pretend that the Clanricarde estates were 'rack-rented.
"Ireland Under Coercion (2nd ed.) (2 of 2) (1888)" by William Henry Hurlbert
In so far as it can be regarded as spontaneous, it was of Whiteboy origin, anti-tithe and anti-rack-rent.
"The Framework of Home Rule" by Erskine Childers
The farms are let at moderate, not rack rents, such as the tenants can easily pay.
"A Short History of English Agriculture" by W. H. R. Curtler
And then had come years of rack-renting of his tenants; the virtuous tenantry had to pay dearly for the vices of their lord.
"Samuel Rutherford and some of his correspondents" by Alexander Whyte
There is the same system of rack-rent in the one as in the other, and the same uncertainty in the rate of the Government demand.
"A Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, Volumes I & II" by William Sleeman
Thus not only rack-rented farms, but all let at any rent, no matter how little, over half the value, were free of this tax.
"Thomas Davis, Selections from his Prose and Poetry" by Thomas Davis
The cultivators are still, for the most part, tenants-at-will, rack-rented and debt-ridden.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 3, Part 1, Slice 3" by Various
The lowest-rented yearly tenant in the country is paying Rack-rent.
"Ireland as It Is" by Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
Sir Robert drank, they said, and rack-rented his people far worse than in the old days.
"An Isle in the Water" by Katharine Tynan
Would the poor tenants be racked for the rent that I always gave time for?
"The Daltons, Volume I (of II) Or,Three Roads In Life" by Charles James Lever
This sweeping reform prevented the rack-renting of tenants.
"A Short History of English Liberalism" by Walter Lyon Blease
Is it rack-renting, process sarving, extirminating, would make them popular?
"The Martins Of Cro' Martin, Vol. II (of II)" by Charles James Lever
Thus, how miserable is the condition of the peasants in Russia, of the Irish "rack-rent" tenants!
"Socialism and the Social Movement in the 19th Century" by Werner Sombart
When he got the estate into trouble it was my care and skill saved it from roup and rent rack.
"Playing With Fire" by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
Next in the scale come those who exacted extreme rack-rents from their tenants.
"Present Irish Questions" by William O'Connor Morris
By two stringent regulations of 1799 and 1812 the tenant was practically put at the mercy of a rack-renting landlord.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 14, Slice 4" by Various
Leaseholders and many copyholders suffer, because they can be rack-rented and evicted.
"The Agrarian Problem in the Sixteenth Century" by Richard Henry Tawney

In poetry:

The slave whose ear feels yet the post and nail,
The serf in some Siberian hell, the oppressed
Of rack-rent, and the debtor in the jail,
All pray with hopeful faces yearning to the West.
"America" by Maurice Thompson
From the racked substance of the earth comes the plant and
That with heat and the night frost is tortured:
To some perfection that grows, man's thoughts wills his hand —
Roots rent, crown broken, grub holed, it is drawn upward.
"Of Cruelty" by Ivor Gurney

In news:

He says he racked up about $5,000 in debt after this year's event, for which he had to cover expenses for things like artist travel, accommodations, and renting sound equipment.