bed·​lam ˈbed-ləm How to pronounce bedlam (audio)
: a place, scene, or state of uproar and confusion
There was bedlam in the streets after the verdict was announced.
or Bedlam : an asylum for the mentally ill
obsolete : madman, lunatic

Examples of bedlam in a Sentence

The park had never had so many visitors at one time. It was total bedlam. French physician Philippe Pinel was instrumental in the transformation of bedlams from filthy hellholes to well-ordered, humane institutions.
Recent Examples on the Web In an effort to contain the bedlam, Gaza’s municipal police force (which falls under Hamas’ control but has no connection to the group’s military wing) took on the job of securing aid convoys’ passage through the strip. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 30 Mar. 2024 And then, the bedlam began, led by Tomlinson, a junior forward from Blue Springs South. Randy Covitz, Kansas City Star, 27 Mar. 2024 New releases can cause bedlam in stores such as Target and Starbucks. Kalhan Rosenblatt, NBC News, 12 Mar. 2024 Of all the things said over the past few days, and even months, about McAfee, Rodgers and the bedlam Rodgers has created, what Hill says about it all is so dead on it should be required reading for every executive inside the network. Mike Freeman, USA TODAY, 12 Jan. 2024 The victim can be seen lying on the ground in shock as the bedlam continues around her. Stephen Sorace, Fox News, 13 Mar. 2024 The remarkable demand underlines the bedlam for the contest between the nuclear-armed foes and vindicates the decision from the authorities to ensure that the match is played in New York. Tristan Lavalette, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 The station then cut back to the bedlam at the bridge. Elliot Ackerman, WIRED, 12 Feb. 2024 Her hair is windswept against a pillow seemingly suspended in the air, as if she’s moved from bed to bedlam; in reality, the ensemble was a surrealist Viktor & Rolf duvet gown fresh off the runway from the label’s Fall-Winter 2005 ready-to-wear collection. Jacqui Palumbo, CNN, 8 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bedlam.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Bedlam, popular name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, London, an asylum for the mentally ill, from Middle English Bedlem Bethlehem

First Known Use

1522, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of bedlam was in 1522

Dictionary Entries Near bedlam

Cite this Entry

“Bedlam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


bed·​lam ˈbed-ləm How to pronounce bedlam (audio)
: a place or scene of uproar and confusion

from Middle English Bedlem "Bethlehem"

Word Origin
Around 1402 the home of a religious community in London was turned into a hospital for the insane. This new hospital kept the name of the community and was known as the Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem. People soon shortened this name to Bethlehem. In Middle English, though, the town of Bethlehem in Palestine was called Bedlem or Bethlem, so this was the pronunciation used for the hospital's name. In time the name Bedlem or Bedlam came to refer to any home for the insane. Today we use bedlam for any scene of noise and confusion like that found in the early hospitals for the insane.

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