mad·​ness | \ ˈmad-nəs How to pronounce madness (audio) \

Definition of madness

1 : the quality or state of being mad: such as
a : a state of severe mental illness not used technically … fortifications against an inner darkness, the threat of madness that crouched above him throughout his life.— Robert F. Moss
b : behavior or thinking that is very foolish or dangerous : extreme folly an idea that is pure/sheer madness
d : intense anger : rage
2 : any of several ailments of animals marked by frenzied behavior specifically : rabies

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for madness



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of madness in a Sentence

He suffered a series of tragedies that nearly drove him to madness. Her friends told her the idea was pure madness, but she went through with it anyway. It was the height of madness for him to drive at such high speeds!
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Foster, bald and emaciated but all sinew, shows you that for Harry this fighting is a kind of madness. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 14 Sep. 2021 As in the source material, the film will follow the couple’s murderous ploys for power over Scotland and their resulting descent into madness. Selome Hailu, Variety, 21 Sep. 2021 This, of course, is the sage advice that the hillwoman, Isern-i-Phail, gives to Rikke of the Long Eye, the Dogman’s daughter, who traded her powers of portent in The Trouble With Peace to stop her descent into madness. Erik Kain, Forbes, 6 Sep. 2021 Despotic ruler sinks deeper into madness as his nation falls apart around him. Washington Post, 12 Aug. 2021 Lear spirals downward, and when Regan and Goneril betray him, the king descends into madness., 24 June 2021 The offerings crescendo into madness, rave-style lights dance around the room, and Burnham cackles like a witch. Emily Palmer Heller, Vulture, 4 June 2021 Trump has, over the past few weeks, descended further and further into the madness of conspiracy theories that suggest he will be reinstated as president sometime soon as recounts and audits of portions of the vote in Arizona and Georgia. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 4 June 2021 All those bad memories of sporting events without fans had mostly disappeared into the madness. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, The Indianapolis Star, 10 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'madness.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of madness

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About madness

Time Traveler for madness

Time Traveler

The first known use of madness was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near madness




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for madness

Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Madness.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for madness


mad·​ness | \ ˈmad-nəs How to pronounce madness (audio) \

Medical Definition of madness

1 : a severely disordered state of mind not used technically
2 : any of several ailments of animals marked by frenzied behavior specifically : rabies

More from Merriam-Webster on madness

Nglish: Translation of madness for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of madness for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about madness


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!