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CRAZY vs. MAD (1)

03 / 10 / 2006

CRAZY vs. MAD (1): meaning and examples

Good morning!

Yesterday my wife saw a woman carrying a bag with an "Emily the Strange" comic on it. Below the drawing it said, "Emily isn't crazy, she's mad." She asked me what the difference between crazy and mad was. Today's Daily Vitamin is based on the answer I gave her.

Crazy means: mentally ill; very silly or stupid.

Mad means: mentally ill; very silly or stupid. Angry (in the US)

Both of these words can be translated to Spanish as loco (Catalan: boig) and both can be used to describe silly behaviour and actions. However, in the US it is much more common to use crazy to mean mentally ill or silly, and mad usually means angry. In the UK, it is more common to use mad to mean mentally ill or silly.

Example 1 (US):
My son sometimes becomes very mad at me when I tell him that it's time for bed. (=angry)

Example 2 (UK):
Some of the greatest ideas at first seem completely mad. (=crazy)

Example 2a (US):
Some of the greatest ideas at first seem completely crazy.

If someone from the US says, "he's mad," they normally mean that that person is angry. If someone from the UK says, "he's mad," they are probably referring to his mental health or silly actions.

The Emily text mentioned above can sound redundant, but not if we take mad to mean angry. And if you are familiar with Emily the Strange, you know that she is angry. (See the website for more information about Emily, although I am NOT recommending it.)

Tomorrow we will cover some more issues related to mad and crazy. In the meantime, if you have any questions about these words, please post them in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website (

Have a good day!