mad·​ness | \ˈmad-nəs \

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

c : ecstasy, enthusiasm

d : intense anger : rage

2 : any of several ailments of animals marked by frenzied behavior specifically : rabies

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Synonyms & Antonyms for madness


anger, angriness, birse [chiefly Scottish], choler, furor, fury, indignation, irateness, ire, lividity, lividness, mad, mood [archaic], outrage, rage, spleen, wrath, wrathfulness


delight, pleasure

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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!
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Recent Examples on the Web

In the 19th century, with the flourishing of industrialization and the enlightenment, a rise in nationalist and ethnic hatred presented Europe with two possible futures—and decent people stood by as the world descended into madness. Dani Dayan, WSJ, "Israel’s Heart Goes Out to Squirrel Hill," 28 Oct. 2018 So how does the sheer madness of being the newest and hottest royal couple realistically affect the day to day aspects of life, like friendships? Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Reportedly Have This One Rule for Their Friends," 9 Aug. 2018 His 1980 album's title track gets eerie real fast with lyrics about a woman's descent into madness. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "30 Halloween Songs to Rock Your Costume Party," 16 July 2018 Their stories, intercut in linear progression in this short feature, seem like descents into madness. Glenn Kenny, New York Times, "3 Sobering Documentaries on Netflix, Fandor and Field of Vision," 5 July 2018 Twitch is offering a break from holiday madness and too much family time with a Pokémon marathon that kicks off on Thanksgiving. Megan Farokhmanesh, The Verge, "Twitch is streaming a Pokémon marathon on Thanksgiving," 21 Nov. 2018 The cruise departs on November 17 and docks again on November 24 giving you the perfect escape from hectic holiday traveling and the Black Friday madness. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "This Thanksgiving-Themed Cruise Through the South Is the Best Way to Spend the Holidays," 1 Oct. 2018 As the summer comes to a close, the air travel madness is actually ramping up: 16.5 million passengers are expected to fly on U.S. airlines over Labor Day weekend, between August 29 and September 4, according to A4A's latest forecast. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "More Than 16 Million People to Fly Over Labor Day Weekend," 29 Aug. 2018 As the bags whittled down from four to two, the madness appeared to be too much for judge Mel B. Almost seven minutes into the act, the former Spice Girl pressed her buzzer and spun her chair away from the stage. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Why 'America's Got Talent' Fans Flipped Out at Mel B During Aaron Crow's Performance," 29 Aug. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of madness

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Learn More about madness

Dictionary Entries near madness


mad money




Madonna lily


Statistics for madness

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for madness

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

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More Definitions for madness


mad·​ness | \ˈmad-nəs \

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

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Comments on madness

What made you want to look up madness? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

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