phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Barking Mad

Posted by TheFallen on September 18, 2002

In Reply to: Barking Mad posted by R. Berg on September 18, 2002

: : Can someone tell me the origins of the term "Barking Mad".
: : Thanks!

: The Oxford English Dictionary doesn't list this phrase under either word. Possibly "barking mad" originated to describe people who were mentally ill with symptoms of hyperactivity and aggression, like a barking dog, or actually barked like dogs. Or perhaps it has to do with rabies. The OED says the use of "mad" for rabid animals seems to have begun late in the history of the word. The examples of this use start in the 16th century.

I've always presumed (though with no evidence) that this phrase was in some way connected with "barking at the moon" and lunacy.