adjective, barm·i·er, barm·i·est.

containing or resembling barm; frothy.
British Slang. balmy(def 4).

Nearby words

  1. barmbrack,
  2. barmecidal,
  3. barmecide,
  4. barmecides,
  5. barmen,
  6. barn,
  7. barn dance,
  8. barn door,
  9. barn owl,
  10. barn raising

Origin of barmy

1525–35; barm + -y1; def. 2 probably respelling of balmy by r-less speaker Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for barmy

  • Well, then, hall Hi can say his hit sounds like barmy Yankee nonsense to me.

  • "If you ask me, I think the blighter is barmy," asserted the Briton.

    The Unspeakable Perk|Samuel Hopkins Adams
  • A man shall not be choak't With the stench of garlic, nor be pasted To the barmy jacket of a beer-brewer.

    Shakespearean Playhouses|Joseph Quincy Adams
  • None of them except Barmy Sid once visited his rooms; nor did he find it at all easy to strike up even a staircase acquaintance.

    Sinister Street, vol. 2|Compton Mackenzie

British Dictionary definitions for barmy


adjective -mier or -miest

slang eccentric or foolishAlso: balmy

Word Origin for barmy

C16: originally, full of barm, hence frothing, excited, flighty, etc

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for barmy



1530s, "frothing, covered with barm;" see barm + -y (2). Figurative sense of "excited, flighty, bubbling with excitement" is from c.1600. Meaning "foolish" (1892) is probably an alteration of balmy.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper