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I'm a non-native English speaker, so is my friend. We are not literature students but we have our interests in English language and we do speak it to a decent level. He thinks we cannot use the word "craziness" in literature, we have to use craze. I disagreed because I think craziness is a valid word that describes insanity and perfect for using in literature.

After searching several online dictionaries, it seems to me that craze also has the same meaning as craziness, but normally craze is used to describe popularity of something while craziness is used to describe insanity.

Do these words bear the same meaning? Is my assumption about the usage of these two words correct? Is craziness valid for using in literature?

EDIT

Meaning of craze according to dictionary.com

  • They are different words with different meanings. "craze" is synonymous with "fad", while "crazed" is a totally different word which is similar in meaning to "crazy". Can you please include some urls for dictionaries that told you they meant the same thing? – Max Williams Jun 21 '16 at 10:33
  • @MaxWilliams multiple sites I clicked on defined craze as "craziness, insanity." But, I don't believe it can be used interchangeably. – RE Lavender Jun 21 '16 at 10:36
  • Links to these sites please. – Max Williams Jun 21 '16 at 10:37
  • @MaxWilliams I have added a link. – the_naive Jun 21 '16 at 10:51
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    Interesting. I have encountered "crazed" to mean "insane" but I've never encountered "craze" (with no d) to mean anything other than "fad". Can anyone find any recent examples of people using it in this way? – Max Williams Jun 21 '16 at 11:08
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As a native English speaker, I can tell you that craziness is definitely a more common word. You're right that craze can refer to popularity, whereas craziness refers to insanity.

Craziness is defined as

  1. The state of being broken in mind; imbecility or weakness of intellect; derangement;2 insanity 1.
  2. The state of being broken down or weakened; as, the craziness of a ship, or of the limbs.2
  3. The result or product of being crazy. 2

So craziness refers to someone's insanity. It could also refer to a ridiculous idea or plan. For example,

Person 1: Shall we just head straight for the finish line?

Person 2: That's craziness! They'll see us coming a mile away.


Craze is defined as

  1. Craziness; insanity;3 an insane condition4
  2. A popular or widespread fad, fashion, etc.; mania:

    The newest dance craze4

So craze can refer either to insanity or to a new trend or popular fashion.

I think craze can be used to mean "craziness" or "insanity" if you explicitly mention that the said 'craze' is in and of a particular person. You could say that someone is filled with craze or afire with craze to emphasise their craziness. I would argue that either term is valid for literature and it really depends on what kind of ideas you want to create around the character.

Perhaps worth noting is the adjective form of craze: crazed, which just means 'insane'. If somebody is insane, you could say that they are crazed; in a state of craze. An example that springs to mind is a Hearthstone card called crazed alchemist.

  1. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/craziness
  2. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/craziness
  3. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/craze
  4. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/craze

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