March hares and hatters

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A hare with a look of insanity ?

Why do we say these expressions ?

The expression “as mad as a March hare” alludes to the excited behaviour of hares during their mating season. The phrase was first coined around 1500, and has been in continuous use since then. It was employed by eminent writers such as John Skelton, Thomas More and notably, by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures of Wonderland in 1865.

Another lighthearted phrase we use to describe deranged antics is “as mad as a hatter.” This expression is thought to have its origins in the hat-making profession of the 18th and 19th century where the use of mercury ultimately poisoned the workers, giving them slurred speech, memory loss and tremors, and sometimes even hallucinations. Again, Lewis Carroll used this idea in his character the Hatter, who interacted with Alice in a nonsensical manner. We generally refer to to this character nowadays as the Mad Hatter, although Lewis Carroll only ever called him the Hatter.

Do you know any other expressions to refer to crazy behaviour?

2 thoughts on “March hares and hatters

  1. I don’t know if this is a British, English, Cornish, or idiosyncratic saying, but a guy I know around here likes to say someone’s mad as a box of frogs. Is that just him or do other people say it?

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    1. Ellen, from what I can gather, this phrase became popular in the late 1990’s but may have been around for some time before that. I haven’t unearthed any interesting tales behind the expression, although it’s not difficult to imagine that frogs trapped in a box would soon go crazy ……

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