It's an example sentence in Oxford Dictionary:

His sangfroid showed signs of cracking.

The confusing point in the sentence is the word "cracking".

I think cracking here probably means "falling apart mentally". The speaker is actually saying something like "he looked calm but in fact he was on the verge of freaking out", but I am not very sure about it.

Is my understanding right?

1 Answer 1


I think you are along the right lines, but I think "cracking" implies not so drastic a reaction as completely "falling apart" or "freaking out". Think of an egg shell cracking, just enough so that a little bit of the interior is exposed.
In your example his sangfroid, his cool, calm exterior was an act and inside he was what? afraid? upset? (I don't know the context) but he was starting to show some small signs that he wouldn't be able to maintain his composure much longer. Perhaps a few beads of perspiration were starting to form on his forehead.

  • I would like to point out that sangfroid literally means "cool blood", and cool blood can't crack. I'm just being pedantic, don't mind me.
    – Dangph
    Jul 9, 2014 at 1:38
  • @Dangph I would like to point out that "rsvp" literally is a request for a response, not the response itself. Turns out that sometimes the English word is different from its original translated form!
    – Tiercelet
    Jul 15, 2014 at 14:26

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