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mad as a hatter

crazy, insane


mad as a hatter = total verrückt—eine umgangssprachliche englische Redewendung, mit der man (leichtfertig) andeutet, dass eine Person an Wahnsinn leidet.



“Growing your own food is like printing money, don’t let it make you MAD AS A HATTER”

Timothy Ghys, et al. — Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (22nd December 2022)

Did you

mad as a hatter
colloquial phrase

- crazy, demented, insane

- severely mentally unsound

Dictionary dot Com / Merriam-Webster


"Mad as a hatter" is a colloquial English phrase used in conversation to suggest (lightheartedly) that a person is suffering from insanity.

There are many theories about the possible origin of the saying, the most common being mercury poisoning among hat-makers – In 18th and 19th century England, mercury was used in the production of felt, which was commonly used in the hat-making trade at the time. Long-term use of mercury products often resulted in mercury poisoning-induced erethism among hat-makers.

In the late 19th-century United States, a notable example occurred in Danbury, Connecticut, where hat making was a major industry. Instances of erethism were so widespread among hat-makers, the condition became known locally as the "Danbury Shakes." It was characterized by slurred speech, tremors, stumbling, and in extreme cases hallucinations.

The earliest known appearance of "mad as a hatter" in print is in an 1829 issue of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, predating the Hatter from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by several decades.

The Intriguing Story of Lincoln's Assassin

Boston Corbett shot John Wilkes Booth on April 26, 1865, in a tobacco barn in Virginia, 12 days after Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

Corbett spent his early life as a hat maker before joining the army, where he had a reputation for being "mad as a hatter”.  It is believed that mercury poisoning affected Corbett’s judgement, in particular in going against orders when he had Booth cornered in a barn and shot him dead instead of taking him alive.

After investigation, Corbett was forgiven for his disobedience, but left the army and went back to hat making. After a few years, Corbett suffered further mental illness and was put in an insane asylum. He managed to escape and was never seen again.


aberrant, bananas, bats, batty, bonkers, berserk, certifiable, crazed, crazy, cuckoo, daft, delirious, demented, deranged, disordered, disturbed, dotty, hallucinating, insane, lunatic, MAD AS A HATTER, maniacal, maniac, mental, mentally ill, moonstruck, not all there, nutty, off one's rocker, out of one's mind, out to lunch, potty, unbalanced, unhinged, unstable, unsound, wacky, wacko

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“You might think that MAD AS A HATTER is derived from Lewis Carroll's ‘Alice's Adventures in Wonderland’ but it appeared in print in an 1829 issue of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, predating Alice by several decades.”

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