Words at Play : Words With Remarkable Origins, Vol. 1

#4: Bedlam

England's first asylum for the mentally ill was The Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem.

In the 16th century, Bethlehem was shortened to Bedlam, and its inmates were dubbed "bedlams."

By the late 17th century, bedlam was being applied to a scene of wild uproar or confusion, and in the decades that followed visiting the hospital became a source of amusement for some wealthy people.

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