The British Press have pointedly made reference to Mr Trump's quote :

"I think I would have said that the European Union is not cracked up to what it’s supposed to be,"

What would have been expected on this side of the pond is something like

"the EU is not all that it is cracked up to be"

Speaking in extempore it is easy (as I find) to mix one's metaphors or to muddle one's words. Here, Mr Trump (I think) has actually said the opposite of what he wanted to say.

The OED gives the verb form 'crack up' as a complimentary formation. So if the EU is not cracked up to 'what it's supposed to be' that means that it deserves to be cracked up some more. Which is not, I think, what was meant to be said.

  1. trans. crack up: to praise, eulogize (a person or thing). So to crack into (repute, etc.) Also (in pass.), to be reputed (usually in negative sentences). colloq. 1829 Kentuckian 28 May He is not the thing he is cracked up for. 1835 D. Crockett Life Van Buren 175 Great men..are not the things they are cracked up for. 1836 Knickerbocker 8 51 New-Orleans is not..half so bad a place as it is ‘cracked up to be’. 1844 Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit xxxiii. 392 Our backs is easy ris. We must be cracked-up, or they rises, and we snarls..You'd better crack us up, you had! 1857 T. Hughes Tom Brown's School Days i. vi. 139 Then don't object to my cracking up the old school-house, Rugby. 1884 American 7 334 Mexico..is not what it has been cracked up to be. 1892 Standard 1 Jan. 3/3 Unfortunate individuals who are for a time ‘cracked’ into reputation by ill-advised patrons. 1939 War Illustr. 14 Oct. p. ii/2 An article from a Paris correspondent cracking up the blue-lit nights of Paris. 1951 E. Bagnold Loved & Envied 234 The emotions have been found by then to be not all they are cracked up to be. 1969 ‘A. Gilbert’ Missing from Home vii. 97 It's not always all it's cracked up to be.


The British Press pointed out the discrepancy of wording but did not pick up on the reversal of the phrase. So, I wonder, is there an AmE version of the BrE 'not all it is cracked up to be' that is the opposite ?

And, if so, when did we diverge from one another ?

  • 2
    Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, by not being editable by the community for improvement, and by not having a visible edit history.. Comments are to be used only for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes.
    – tchrist
    Jan 28, 2018 at 23:04
  • The idiom is too garbled to be sure, but my guess is he was trying to say what the EU claims to be is not what they should be trying to do. Jan 28, 2018 at 23:09
  • Perhaps this question might be improved if the reference to DJ Trump were removed. The question as written might be deemed off-topic because the speaker in question frequently - as in this instance - attempts to communicate in language which is only tangentially "English.". Cheers!
    – Rob_Ster
    Jan 29, 2018 at 3:50

3 Answers 3


In a comment, WS2 wrote:

As far as British use is concerned I endorse what you say. Almost always it is used following a negative. "The EU is not all that it is cracked up to be" is what I believe Trump meant to say. (Though I for one do not agree with him).


In a comment, Hot Licks wrote:

If Trump indeed said that, he said it like an immigrant would have. It's not at all idiomatic in the US. (Though I will say that the "not all it's cracked up to be" idiom is used in the US mostly without any comprehension of what "cracked" means in this case.)


It is unclear whether the question asks for a trans-pond translation of the opposite sentiment or whether it wants similar usage. In the latter case, I suggest that one AmE version of the BrE

it is not all it is cracked up to be


it sucks

  • is there an AmE version of the BrE 'not all it is cracked up to be' that is the opposite ?
    – Nigel J
    Jan 29, 2018 at 2:54
  • @Nigel J No, he just didn't say it quite right. It is, after all, extemporaneous.
    – Xanne
    Jan 29, 2018 at 4:00

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