Crazy and Insane

08 April 2022

Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question from Leah from Vietnam.


Hi! I'm Leah from Vietnam. I would like to know the difference between "insane" and "crazy".

Thank you so much!



Dear Leah,

I really appreciate the question. These two words may appear as synonyms in some situations. But in recent years, their usage and meanings have changed with increased knowledge of mental health issues.

Let us start with "crazy."

"Crazy" is mostly used as an adjective and can have several different meanings that are informal.

Its first meaning is foolish, strange, wild or intense.

The crazy kittens knocked over their water bowl because they were so excited.

In this example, the kittens were a little wild and foolishly spilled the water.

A second meaning of "crazy" is really enthusiastic, interested in, or in love with something. We usually use the preposition "about" with the word.

The couple is crazy about each other; they are always holding hands.

And crazy can also mean mentally sick or unbalanced. This meaning is falling out of use because now there is more awareness and sensitivity towards mental health issues.

An example from recent years can be seen in the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

synonymn. a word that is similar in meaning to another word

mental health n. well-being of your mind, emotions, and social needs

stereotypesn. common, over-simplified and negative ideas of people or their roles in life

enthusiastic –adj. feeling or showing strong excitement about something; filled with or marked by enthusiasm

negative –adj. harmful or bad; not wanted

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