Examples of etymology in action are so fascinating! You know, watching slang words develop. One such instance of this is the term cray-cray, which means "crazy". Not standardized, this can also be written cray cray or simply cray. Interestingly enough, this most likely comes from a misunderstanding about a 2011 Jay-Z rap lyric. In the family-friendly version, he said "that ish cray", and most people believed this to be an abbreviation of crazy that worked with the rhyme scheme, thought it was cool, and started using it. However, this is not a shortening of crazy. It was later admitted that the lyric referred to Ronald and Reginald Kray, powerful and schizophrenic mafiosos from the East End of London in the 1960s. A large number of people doubt this, but it seems credible enough to be true, and if so, this is my favorite etymology of the 2010s.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.