“Crap” (as adjective) versus “Crappy”

Hayden's own crap tech

In a wonderful essay, “In Praise of Crap Technology,” Thomas Hayden extols the virtues of his $19.99 Coby mp3 player, bottom-of-the line Samsung cellphone, 1995 mountain bike, and other devices that aren’t fancy but work. He says of the Coby:

it’s worth next to nothing so I’m virtually assured never to lose it—unlike apparently every iPhone prototype ever—and I don’t cringe at all when my toddler flings it across the room. And because the next Coby is sure to be just as mediocre, I’ll never need to upgrade—I’ve stepped off the escalators of feature creep and planned obsolescence, and all the expense and toxic e-waste that come with them. Crap technology, it turns out, is green technology.

Much food for thought there. However, the thing that caught my attention, of  course, was the use of the NOOB crap as an adjective. In an interview last night on public radio’s “Marketplace,” Hayden expanded on the distinction between crap and crappy:

Crap technology is basically stuff that doesn’t have cachet, you know? It’s not slick, it’s not cool, but it works. Crappy technology, on the other hand, is stuff that simply doesn’t work. That’s the sweet spot of crap technology: no cachet but all the functionality you’ll need.

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6 responses to ““Crap” (as adjective) versus “Crappy”

  1. I heard that commentary on NPR last night. It strikes me that this is an entirely new use for the word crap, and certainly not how I, as a Brit would use it. To me “crap” as an adjective is always synonymous with “rubbish”.

  2. I think Hayden was being just a little ironic.

  3. Hayden’s use distinguishing `crap’ (adj) from `crappy’ seems to be perfectly standard British English

  4. Has Jane been abroad too long? Crap as an adjective has been around about 10 years, probably replacing “pants”.

  5. Surprised none have mentioned the apocryphal Thomas Crapper’s um, contribution to the usage.

  6. Surprised none have mentioned the apocryphal Thomas Crapper’s um, contribution to the usage.

    That would be because he’s not apocryphal and he didn’t have anything to do with the spread of the word “crap”.

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