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noun, plural mad·hous·es [mad-hou-ziz] /ˈmædˌhaʊ zɪz/.
  1. a hospital for the confinement and treatment of mentally disturbed persons.
  2. a wild, confused, and often noisy place, set of circumstances, etc.: The office was a madhouse today.
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Origin of madhouse

First recorded in 1680–90; mad + house


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2. bedlam, shambles.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for madhouse


noun informal
  1. a mental hospital or asylum
  2. a state of uproar or confusion
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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 madhouse


1680s, from mad + house (n.). Figurative use by 1919.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper