Will's word: Crazy

31st October 2003 at 00:00
Crazy (adjective) "very strange, mentally ill; mad with emotion"

The modern meanings were beginning to come into the language in the early 1600s, but in Shakespeare we find only the earliest sense. This was essentially physical in character. Something that was crazy was full of cracks and flaws (as in modern crazy paving), damaged, or broken down.

Bodies as well as buildings could be crazy, therefore - as when Talbot says to Bedford: "We will bestow you in some better place, Fitter for sickness and for crazy age" (Henry VI Part 1, III.ii.89). Here the word means "frail" or "infirm". It is the only use of crazy in Shakespeare; but there is a related word, crazed, which is used by Demetrius to Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream (I.i.92): "yield Thy crazed title to my certain right". Here it means "flawed, unsound".

David Crystal

David Crystal is author, with Ben Crystal, of Shakespeare's Words, published by Penguin

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now