stir-cra·​zy ˈstər-ˈkrā-zē How to pronounce stir-crazy (audio)
: distraught because of prolonged confinement

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Stir-crazy originated as a word to describe a prisoner who became distraught after prolonged confinement. Stir is a 19th-century slang word for "prison" that some word historians have suspected to be from Romani stariben, of the same meaning. But a convincing argument of that origin has yet been made. Today, stir-crazy describes any person who has become restless, agitated, or anxious from being or feeling entrapped in some place.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Helping stir-crazy readers and offering a local alternative to certain omniretail monoliths? Peter Rubin, Longreads, 11 Apr. 2023

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

Word History


stir entry 3

First Known Use

circa 1908, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of stir-crazy was circa 1908


Dictionary Entries Near stir-crazy

Cite this Entry

“Stir-crazy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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