[ bong-kerz ]
/ ˈbɒŋ kərz /
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adjective Slang.
mentally unbalanced; mad; crazy.
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Origin of bonkers

1945–50; of uncertain origin; for final element, cf. -ers

Words nearby bonkers

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


Where does the word bonkers come from?

Bonkers is a funny-sounding word. It’s a goofy, lighter, informal way to say “crazy” or “nuts”—but keep in mind that’s it not so fun to make fun of people’s mental health.

Its origins are unclear, but bonkers is first recorded as British naval slang for “a bit drunk” in the 1940s—perhaps acting like someone has bonked, or hit, them on the head.

The roots of these other words may get a rise—of laughter or surprise—out of you. Run on over to our roundup of them at “Weird Word Origins That Will Make Your Family Laugh.”

Did you know … ?

Bonkers is sometimes used in the construction (to go) bonkers. If a person suddenly starts acting strange, wild, or bizarre, they can be said to be going bonkers or that they went bonkers.

Perhaps due to how silly the word sounds, bonkers is used in the names of a variety of businesses that specialize in children’s entertainment. The word bonk—which bonkers may have come from, as we say above—is also sometimes used in children’s programs that involve cartoon characters getting bonked on their head with various objects, such as mallets.

Bonkers is also the name of a short-lived, early 1990s Disney cartoon series starring perhaps one of Disney’s lesser remembered characters: Bonkers D. Bobcat. The character’s name directly referenced the zany, wacky behavior of the character. That’s bonkers!

How to use bonkers in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for bonkers

/ (ˈbɒŋkəz) /

slang, mainly British mad; crazy

Word Origin for bonkers

C20 (originally in the sense: slightly drunk, tipsy): of unknown origin
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