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ma·​ni·​ac ˈmā-nē-ˌak How to pronounce maniac (audio)
plural maniacs
informal : someone who is or acts mentally unsound
especially : a person who behaves in a wildly foolish, reckless, or dangerous manner
Don't drive like a maniac.
There was a high wire strung from one shore to the other and some maniac in ballet slippers and tights was walking the wire … E. L. Doctorow
In The Bat Whispers the heroine is sealed in a dark room with a homicidal maniac. Scott MacQueen
informal : a person who is extremely enthusiastic about something
a sports maniac
Comic book maniacs and superhero look-alikes gathered at the Cross County Mall in suburban West Palm Beach to buy, sell and talk about the arcane world of comics.Stefan Fatsis


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ma·​ni·​ac ˈmā-nē-ˌak How to pronounce maniac (audio)

less common variant of maniacal

: affected with or suggestive of madness
maniacal laughter
maniacal energy
a maniacal killer
: characterized by ungovernable excitement or frenzy : frantic
a maniacal mob
maniacal fans

Examples of maniac in a Sentence

Noun He's a complete maniac when he's playing football. they should permanently put away the maniac who is responsible for these kidnappings
Recent Examples on the Web
But why not see them as brave maniacs, daring to build an entirely new vision of the world? Amy X. Wang, New York Times, 7 May 2024 The sorrow and anger repressed within him are as fearsome as the cinematic zombies, ghouls and homicidal maniacs that have seized his imagination. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 16 Apr. 2024 You guys toured like maniacs and really built the band up again. Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 14 Mar. 2024 The sneak peek finds a maniac dressed in a Pilgrim costume — going by the Instagram handle @TheJohnCarver — assaulting a string of victims with implements more generally utilized to serve dinner than deliver torture and death. Clark Collis,, 4 Oct. 2023 When murderous maniacs threaten to repeat their rampage, brute force is all that will stop them. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, 6 Feb. 2024 Rather than a tangle of systemic forces privileging and oppressing whole categories of person, Curb throws open the gates of a global asylum run by 8 billion maniacs, all weaponizing their differences against one another. TIME, 2 Feb. 2024 This maniac had already murdered four and was set to murder more. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 18 Jan. 2024 The only curse is that Fritz Von Erich is a maniac of aggression who runs his family like the Great Santini crossed with a prison warden. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 12 Dec. 2023
At first glance, Torres’ debut film seems like a quirky, millennial visual feast about a desperate El Salvadorian and a maniac artist. The Arizona Republic, 14 Mar. 2024 None of this pays off in any fashion, as potentially interesting plot threads are rapidly dropped in favor of a typical maniac plot. Declan Gallagher,, 25 Oct. 2023

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

Word History



borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French maniaque "mad, frenzied," (as noun) "madman, lunatic," borrowed from Medieval Latin maniacus (as both noun and adjective), going back to Late Latin, "mad, maniacal," borrowed from Late Greek maniakós, from Greek manía "madness, frenzy, mania" + -akos, variant of -ikos -ic entry 1 before a vowel

First Known Use


circa 1763, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of maniac was circa 1763

Dictionary Entries Near maniac

Cite this Entry

“Maniac.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


ma·​ni·​ac ˈmā-nē-ˌak How to pronounce maniac (audio)
: a person wildly enthusiastic about something

More from Merriam-Webster on maniac

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