far from the madding crowd

A phrase adapted from the “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” by Thomas Gray: madding means “frenzied.” The lines containing the phrase speak of the people buried in the churchyard: “Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife / Their sober wishes never learned to stray.”

Note

In the late nineteenth century, the English author Thomas Hardy named one of his novels Far from the Madding Crowd.

far from the madding crowd

To be “far from the madding crowd” is to be removed, either literally or figuratively, from the frenzied actions of any large crowd or from the bustle of civilization. (See also under “Literature in English.”)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.