The idiom not all it’s cracked up to be is based on an archaic meaning of the word crack. We will examine the definition of the phrase not all it’s cracked up to be, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.
Not all it’s cracked up to be is an expression used in describing something that is hardly first rate, something that does not live up to its reputation, something that is inferior. When one says that something is not all its cracked up to be, it is because that person has come to realize that the high opinion he had is not justified by the facts. It can be a terrible disappointment to conclude that something or someone you held in high esteem did not prove to deserve that trust. Crack is an interesting verb with many meanings. Crack me up may mean to find humor in a situation, to burst out with laughter due to finding a story or joke hilarious. Crack up may mean to collapse or have a mental breakdown. Crack down may mean to severely discipline. The idiom not all it’s cracked up to be is derived from an archaic meaning of crack, which is to brag about something or to praise something effusively. This definition of crack was popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s. If something is cracked up to be superior, then when it is proved to not be superior, it is not all it’s cracked up to be. A quote from Davy Crockett, noted American frontiersman and politician: “Martin Van Buren is not the man he is cracked up to be.” Note that the word it’s is a contraction of it is, and is spelled with an apostrophe.
“PAY no attention to that man behind the curtain”, said Frank Morgan in the 1939 classic The Wizard Of Oz, while frantically trying to distract visitors to the titular Wizard from the fact that he was, in fact, not all he’s cracked up to be. (The York Press)
“Being the guy in 1960 saying Martin Luther King Jr. was not all he’s cracked up to be would have gotten you a lot of newspaper readers, but it’s not about getting clicks now.” (New York Magazine)
The series, about a woman (played by Kristen Bell) who wakes up in the afterlife and finds out it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, has referenced both burritos and frozen yogurt as plot points. (The Bakersfield Californian)
Thankfully it has so far manifested only in a reluctance to cut his hair, but Joshua says life as the heavyweight champion of the world is not all it’s cracked up to be. (The Independent)