Printable Version
Pronunciation: kray-zee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Full of cracks, frail, about to fall to pieces. 2. Insane, demented, out of one's mind. 3. Wild but fun (crazy party), unpredictable, out of the ordinary, unorthodox (crazy idea), out of line or alignment (crazy brick pattern).

Notes: The original crackpotAfter the crazy primaries we are experiencing in the US in 2012, I thought that today we should investigate the word crazy itself. This word compares with suffixes: crazier and craziest. The adverb is crazily and the noun, craziness (don't forget to replace Y with I before suffixes). A person who is crazy is a crazy who belongs to the class of all crazies. We have also back derived a new noun, a craze, which means craziness over something very popular, such as the current iPad craze. A craziologist is a psychiatrist or psychologist whom you don't like.

In Play: The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has not declared the original meaning of today's Good Word obsolete, so we must deal with it: "I don't understand how grandma's crazy pitcher holds any water." My wife once made pottery with crazy raku glazes (like the one above) in the original sense of this Good Word. But the adjective today is used far more often to refer to the behavior of someone out of their mind: "Swallowing live goldfish was called a craze back in the 20s because it was a crazy thing to do."

Word History: English speakers were using pot in reference to the skull at least by the 15th century. The metaphor of a cracked pot (or simply crackpot) referring to someone who is out of their mind started sometime later. It began with cracked brain and ending up simply as cracked in modern English. Crazy, derived from the verb craze, took on the same meaning sometime in the 17th century. The verb itself was probably borrowed from the same Old Norse word that ended up in Swedish as krasa "to crackle". It is related to crash and crack. (Today we thank that wild and crazy guy Perry Dror for discovering the insanity of today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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