Posted by Bob on December 16, 2004

In Reply to: Selenium posted by Gary on December 16, 2004

: : : 'Crazy as a loon' is a phrase heard often around these parts, and while this particular area has abundant lakes and loons, I have never known the loons to be crazy.
: : : I have checked the archives and there is a vague reference to 'looney' in one previos thread. There is also a lunatic, lunar reference.
: : : If this has already been disussed, I apologise, but, beside the obvious, is there a connection between crazy as a loon, looney and lunatic?

: : simple one this - obviously the word 'lunar' refers to the moon - in ancient times, when lives were thought to be influenced by celestial bodies, it was believed that some people were adversely influenced by the moon, which took their sanity: they were called 'lunatics'. the word lunatic was often shortened to 'loony' and thence to 'loon'.

: : maybe an astrologer will explain the supposed malevolent influence of the moon.

: : L

: I'm sure that's right about the lunar origin. There is a breed of duck called a loon too. In Macbeth there's a line that seems to allude both to the moon and to our feathered friends.

: The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!
: Where gott'st thou that goose look?
The call of the loon is looney. If you're near a lake full of loons, it's a noise you might expect in an insane asylum. By the way, isn't "looney" one of the funniest-sounding words in English? When I hear Woodie Allen (in "Love and Death") call the old prisoner a total loon, it seems so fitting. And wasn't there a Spike Milligan or Monty Python bit where someone was described as "a bit loooooooooney?"