early 14c., crouken, of birds (crow, raven, crane), "make a low, hoarse sound," imitative or related to Old English cracian (see crack (v.)). Of frogs, c. 1400. Meaning "forebode evil, complain, grumble" is from mid-15c., perhaps from the raven as a bird of foreboding. Slang meaning "to die" is first recorded 1812, from sound of death rattle. Related: Croaked; croaking.
also crake, a name for the crow or rail, from Old Norse kraka "a crow," which is of imitative origin. Compare croak (v.).
1630s, "prophet of evil, one who takes an unreasonably desponding view of everything," agent noun from croak (v.); a reference to the raven (compare Middle English crake "a raven," early 14c., from Old Norse kraka "crow," of imitative origin). From 1650s as "bird or other animal that croaks."
early 14c., creken, "utter a harsh cry," of imitative origin. Compare Old English cræccettan "to croak." Used from 1580s of the sound made by rusty gate hinges, wooden floorboards, and aged bones. Related: Creaked; creaking. As a noun, from c. 1600, "a sharp, harsh, grating sound."
"coughing illness," a name given to various diseases involving interference at the glottis with respiration," 1765, from obsolete verb croup "to cry hoarsely, croak" (1510s), probably echoic. This was the local name of the disease in southeastern Scotland, given wide currency by Dr. Francis Home (1719-1813) of Edinburgh in his 1765 treatise on it. Related: Croupy.
"to make a duck sound; utter a harsh, flat, croaking cry," 1610s, earlier quake (late 14c.), variant of quelke (early 14c.), all of echoic origin (compare Middle Dutch quacken, Old Church Slavonic kvakati, Latin coaxare "to croak," Greek koax "the croaking of frogs," Hittite akuwakuwash "frog").
In the same line of Chaucer, various early editions have it as quake, quakke, quak, quat. Frequentative form quackle is attested from 1560s. Middle English on the quakke (14c.) meant "hoarse, croaking." The sense of "talk or advertise noisily and ostentatiously" (1650s) might show influence of quack (n.1). Related: Quacked; quacking.
[European crow], Middle English roke, from Old English hroc, from Proto-Germanic *khrokaz (source also of Old Norse hrokr, Middle Dutch roec, Dutch roek, Middle Swedish roka, Old High German hruoh "crow"), probably imitative of its raucous voice. Compare crow (n.), also Gaelic roc "croak," Sanskrit kruc "to cry out." Used as a disparaging term for persons at least since c. 1500, and extended by 1570s to mean "a cheat," especially at cards or dice, also, later "a simpleton, a gull, one liable to be cheated" (1590s). For sense, compare gull (n.2).
"sideshow freak," 1916, U.S. carnival and circus slang, perhaps a variant of geck "a fool, dupe, simpleton" (1510s), apparently from Dutch gek or Low German geck, from an imitative verb found in North Sea Germanic and Scandinavian meaning "to croak, cackle," and also "to mock, cheat" (Dutch gekken, German gecken, Danish gjække, Swedish gäcka). The modern form and the popular use with reference to circus sideshow "wild men" is from 1946, in William Lindsay Gresham's novel "Nightmare Alley" (made into a film in 1947 starring Tyrone Power).
"An ordinary geek doesn't actually eat snakes, just bites off chunks of 'em, chicken heads and rats." [Arthur H. Lewis, "Carnival," 1970]
By c. 1983, used in teenager slang in reference to peers who lacked social graces but were obsessed with new technology and computers (such as the Anthony Michael Hall character in 1984's "Sixteen Candles").
geek out vi. To temporarily enter techno-nerd mode while in a non-hackish context, for example at parties held near computer equipment. [Eric S. Raymond, "The New Hacker's Dictionary," 1996]