"mentally unbalanced person," 1898, probably from crack (v.) + pot (n.1) in a slang sense of "head." Compare crack-brain "crazy fellow" (late 16c.). Earlier it was used in a slang sense "a small-time big-shot" (1883), and by medical doctors in reference to a "metallic chinking sometimes heard when percussion is made over a cavity which communicates with a bronchus."
Entries linking to crackpot
Old English cracian "make a sharp noise, give forth a loud, abrupt sound," from Proto-Germanic *krakojan (source also of Middle Dutch craken, Dutch kraken, German krachen); the whole group is probably ultimately imitative. Related: Cracked; cracking.
From c. 1300 as "to burst, split open" (intransitive), also transitive, "to cause to break into chinks." From 1785 as "break or crush into small pieces." Of the voice, "change tone suddenly," as that of a youth passing into manhood, c. 1600. Meaning "to open and drink" (a bottle) is from 16c.
From early 14c. as "to utter, say, speak, talk freely," especially "speak loudly or boastingly" (late 14c.). To crack a smile is from 1835, American English; to crack a joke is by 1732, probably from the "speak, say" sense. To crack the whip in the figurative sense is from 1886. Get cracking "go to work, start doing what is to be done" is by 1937.
What is a crack in English? A chat! The synonym is as perfect as possible; yet the words are subtly distinguished by a whole hemisphere of feeling. A chat, by comparison "wi' a crack," is a poor, frivolous, shallow, altogether heartless business. A crack is, indeed, only adequately to be defined as a chat with a good, kindly, human heart in it .... [P.P. Alexander, notes to "Last Leaves," Edinburgh, 1869]
"deep, circular vessel," from late Old English pott and Old French pot "pot, container, mortar" (also in erotic senses), both from a general Low Germanic (Old Frisian pott, Middle Dutch pot) and Romanic word from Vulgar Latin *pottus, which is of uncertain origin, said by Barnhart and OED to be unconnected to Late Latin potus "drinking cup." Similar Celtic words are said to be borrowed from English and French.
Specifically as a drinking vessel from Middle English. Slang meaning "large sum of money staked on a bet" is attested from 1823; that of "aggregate stakes in a card game" is from 1847, American English.
Pot roast "meat (generally beef) cooked in a pot with little water and allowed to become brown, as if roasted," is from 1881. Pot-plant is by 1816 as "plant grown in a pot." The phrase go to pot "be ruined or wasted" (16c.) suggests cooking, perhaps meat cut up for the pot. In phrases, the pot calls the kettle black-arse (said of one who blames another for what he himself is also guilty of) is from c. 1700; shit or get off the pot is traced by Partridge to Canadian armed forces in World War II. To keep the pot boiling "provide the necessities of life" is from 1650s.