Then science happened, and shit got cray-cray.

I searched the reliable online dictionaries but I can not find any definition. Though I found meaning of cray:

a short form of "crazy" used by some young people

but I still can not understand the meaning of the phrase excactly.

So, could you please explain it to me?

The fuller text:

Everything revolved around the Church (or synagogue or temple or mosque or whatever). Priests and holy men were the arbiters of social life because they were the arbiters of hope. They were the only ones who could tell you what God wanted, and God was the only one who could promise any salvation or a better future. Therefore, these holy men dictated everything that was of value in society. Then science happened, and shit got cray-cray. Microscopes and printing presses and internal combustion engines and cotton gins and thermometers and, finally, some goddamn medicine that actually worked. Suddenly, life got better. More important, you could see life getting better. People used better tools, had access to more food, were healthier, and made more money. Finally, you could look back ten years and say, “Whoa! Can you believe we used to live like that?”

  • 2
    You've got the meaning right, so what about the phrase do you still not understand?
    – Mr Lister
    Jul 19, 2019 at 10:37
  • 1
    @MrLister - Even after discovering that cray is short for crazy, I can still see where grasping the full meaning of "the shit got cray-cray" would be very difficult for a learner. (I know it's challenging for me to think of a good way to explain it.) I think this question is in pretty good shape as it is right now.
    – J.R.
    Jul 19, 2019 at 12:08

2 Answers 2


"Shit" has been used to mean "stuff", or "events", or just "things" from time immemorial, but "cray-cray" as slang for "crazy" is fairly recent, possibly less than 20 years old.

As is typical for this kind of expression, it was first used by certain groups of young people, then quickly got picked up by popular media and eventually become widespread, at which point it's a phrase parents use to try (and fail) to sound more understanding of the young culture of their children.

The nuance I get from this passage is that this writer is trying too hard to be edgy to appeal to younger readers. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't.

Personally, I'm fine with the relaxed writing style but I'd be happier if the writer went with a less slangy idiom, such as:

Then science happened, and everything went nuts.

Then science happened, and all that went out the window.

Then science happened, and turned everything topsy-turvy.

and numerous other variations on the same theme.

  • 2
    I like this answer for many reasons, but my favorite part is your suggestion of went out the window. It has the right tone and, in this context, would have very close to the same meaning as the cray-cray original.
    – J.R.
    Jul 19, 2019 at 18:30

One of the meanings of shit given by Lexico is


4.1 Events or circumstances.
some crazy shit happened last night

So the phrase shit got cray-cray seems to mean

Then science happened, and things went really crazy.

(The OP already deduced the meaning of cray)

The Age of Enlightenment marked a change when priests and holy men lost control, and in that sense things did go crazy, and as the passage states, there was an explosion of discovery and invention, which religious leaders could not suppress, although they tried.

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