any plant of the genus Rubia, especially the climbing R. tinctorum, of Europe, having open clusters of small, yellowish flowers.Compare madder family.
the root of this plant, formerly used in dyeing.
the dye or coloring matter itself.
a color produced by such a dye.

Origin of madder

before 1000; Middle English mad(d)er, Old English mæd(e)re; cognate with Old Norse mathra, Old High German matara




comparative of mad.
Can be confusedmadder matter



adjective, mad·der, mad·dest.

mentally disturbed; deranged; insane; demented.
enraged; greatly provoked or irritated; angry.
(of animals)
  1. abnormally furious; ferocious: a mad bull.
  2. affected with rabies; rabid: a mad dog.
extremely foolish or unwise; imprudent; irrational: a mad scheme to invade France.
wildly excited or confused; frantic: mad haste.
overcome by desire, eagerness, enthusiasm, etc.; excessively or uncontrollably fond; infatuated: He's mad about the opera.
wildly lively and merry; enjoyably hilarious: to have a mad time at the Mardi Gras.
(of wind, storms, etc.) furious in violence: A mad gale swept across the channel.


an angry or ill-tempered period, mood, or spell: The last time he had a mad on, it lasted for days.

verb (used with object), mad·ded, mad·ding.

Archaic. to make mad.

verb (used without object), mad·ded, mad·ding.

Archaic. to be, become, or act mad.

Origin of mad

before 900; Middle English mad (adj.), madden (intransitive v., derivative of the adj.); Old English gemǣd(e)d, past participle of *gemǣdan to make mad, akin to gemād mad, foolish; cognate with Old Saxon gemēd, Old High German gimeit foolish
Related formshalf-mad, adjectivehalf-mad·ly, adverbhalf-mad·ness, nounqua·si-mad, adjectivequa·si-mad·ly, adverbun·mad, adjectiveun·mad·ded, adjective

Synonyms for mad

1. lunatic, maniacal, crazed, crazy. 2. furious, exasperated, raging, wrathful, irate. 4. ill-advised; unsafe, dangerous, perilous. Mad, crazy, insane are used to characterize wildly impractical or foolish ideas, actions, etc. Mad suggests senselessness and excess: The scheme of buying the bridge was absolutely mad. In informal usage, crazy suggests recklessness and impracticality: a crazy young couple. Insane is used with some opprobrium to express unsoundness and possible harmfulness: The new traffic system is simply insane. 5. frenzied.

Antonyms for mad

Usage note

Mad meaning “enraged, angry” has been used since 1300, and this sense is a very common one. Because some teachers and usage critics insist that the only correct meaning of mad is “mentally disturbed, insane,” mad is often replaced by angry in formal contexts: The president is angry at Congress for overriding his veto. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for madder

Contemporary Examples of madder

Historical Examples of madder

  • And next day Cap'n Jonadab was round, madder'n a licked pup.

    The Depot Master

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • A madder journey than Jim could have conceived of, had he not been a participant in it.

  • Vy the tevil don't beobles zay when there are things the madder at home?

    Despair's Last Journey

    David Christie Murray

  • A madder fellow than Bill Poodles never floundered in shallow water.

    Breaking Away

    Oliver Optic

  • Nonie's cheeks were scarlet; she was getting madder and madder with every word she said.

    We Ten

    Lyda Farrington Kraus

British Dictionary definitions for madder




any of several rubiaceous plants of the genus Rubia, esp the Eurasian R. tinctoria, which has small yellow flowers and a red fleshy root
the root of this plant
a dark reddish-purple dye formerly obtained by fermentation of this root; identical to the synthetic dye, alizarin
a red lake obtained from alizarin and an inorganic base; used as a pigment in inks and paints

Word Origin for madder

Old English mædere; related to Middle Dutch mēde, Old Norse mathra




the comparative of mad


n acronym for US

mutual assured destruction: a theory of nuclear deterrence whereby each side in a conflict has the capacity to destroy the other in retaliation for a nuclear attack


adjective madder or maddest

mentally deranged; insane
senseless; foolisha mad idea
(often foll by at) informal angry; resentful
(foll by about, on, or over; often postpositive) wildly enthusiastic (about) or fond (of)mad about football; football-mad
extremely excited or confused; frantica mad rush
temporarily overpowered by violent reactions, emotions, etcmad with grief
(of animals)
  1. unusually ferociousa mad buffalo
  2. afflicted with rabies
like mad informal with great energy, enthusiasm, or haste; wildly
mad as a hatter crazily eccentric

verb mads, madding or madded

archaic to make or become mad; act or cause to act as if mad
Derived Formsmaddish, adjective

Word Origin for mad

Old English gemǣded, past participle of gemǣdan to render insane; related to gemād insane, and to Old High German gimeit silly, crazy, Old Norse meitha to hurt, damage
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 madder

type of plant (in modern use Rubia tinctorum) used for making dyes, Old English mædere, from PIE *modhro- "dye plant" (cf. Old Norse maðra, Old High German matara "madder," Polish modry, Czech modry "blue").



late 13c., from Old English gemædde (plural) "out of one's mind" (usually implying also violent excitement), also "foolish, extremely stupid," earlier gemæded "rendered insane," past participle of a lost verb *gemædan "to make insane or foolish," from Proto-Germanic *ga-maid-jan, demonstrative form of *ga-maid-az "changed (for the worse), abnormal" (cf. Old Saxon gimed "foolish," Old High German gimeit "foolish, vain, boastful," Gothic gamaiþs "crippled, wounded," Old Norse meiða "to hurt, maim"), from intensive prefix *ga- + PIE *moito-, past participle of root *mei- "to change" (cf. Latin mutare "to change," mutuus "done in exchange," migrare "to change one's place of residence;" see mutable).

Emerged in Middle English to replace the more usual Old English word, wod (see wood (adj.)). Sense of "beside oneself with excitement or enthusiasm" is from early 14c. Meaning "beside oneself with anger" is attested from early 14c., but deplored by Rev. John Witherspoon (1781) as an Americanism. It now competes in American English with angry for this sense. Of animals, "affected with rabies," from late 13c. Phrase mad as a March hare is attested from 1520s, via notion of breeding season; mad as a hatter is from 1829 as "demented," 1837 as "enraged," according to a modern theory supposedly from erratic behavior caused by prolonged exposure to poison mercuric nitrate, used in making felt hats. For mad as a wet hen see hen. Mad money is attested from 1922; mad scientist is from 1891.



late 14c., from mad (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

madder in Medicine




Angry; resentful.
Suffering from a disorder of the mind; insane.
Affected by rabies; rabid.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with madder


In addition to the idioms beginning with mad

  • mad about
  • mad as a hatter
  • mad as a hornet
  • made for each other
  • made of money
  • made to measure
  • made to order
  • mad rush

also see:

  • crazy (mad) about
  • drive someone crazy (mad)
  • hopping mad
  • like crazy (mad)
  • stark raving mad
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.