Is there an English verb that means "to go mad"?
September 11, 2016 10:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a single English word that means "go mad" or "be mad", or anything similar: act weird, be eccentric, become demented. There are lots of phrasal verbs and colloquial expressions for this, and lots of synonyms for "mad", but I can't find any verbs. Closest I've found is "to trip". Any ideas, especially archaic or defunct words?
posted by dontjumplarry to Writing & Language (29 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
"snapped" or "cracked", maybe? as in, "Joe worked at the post office quietly for 20 years, then one day he just... snapped."
posted by The otter lady at 11:00 PM on September 11, 2016 [14 favorites]


You can use "dement" as a verb. The OED supplies as an example: "It would not require more than two or three incidents of this sort to utterly dement him."

Similarly, it supplies an example for "deranged": "Minds deranged by sorrow."
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:01 PM on September 11, 2016 [8 favorites]


What about "decompensate":
"Psychology. to lose the ability to maintain normal or appropriate psychological defenses, sometimes resulting in depression, anxiety, or delusions."
posted by bleep at 11:03 PM on September 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


"Rave" can have the sense "to speak in the manner of a madman". Rant and rave, stark raving mad.
posted by Diablevert at 11:03 PM on September 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


flip
posted by rongorongo at 11:14 PM on September 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


Breakdown?
posted by she's not there at 11:42 PM on September 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


nuts?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:48 PM on September 11, 2016


Well, there's always the verb "madden".
posted by Lorc at 11:50 PM on September 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


been touched? gone potty? to crack? wigged out? postal?
posted by kmennie at 12:07 AM on September 12, 2016


sundowning
posted by Jacen at 12:07 AM on September 12, 2016


to lose it?
posted by forza at 12:20 AM on September 12, 2016


There are a lot of verb phrases but the only single word verbs I can think of are to flip "He just flipped one day" and to freak "She really freaked when I told her". Both are really abbreviated versions of "freak out" and "flip out" though!
posted by dave99 at 12:42 AM on September 12, 2016


Have a look in Hamlet. If an archaic verb exists of this type, it will be there...
posted by Chairboy at 2:00 AM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


It’s interesting that so many more verbs come to mind meaning to make mad (derange, craze, unbalance, unhinge, etc.) than to be mad. Perhaps adjacent to the latter is ‘to dote’, in its sense of ‘to be feeble-minded’.
posted by misteraitch at 2:26 AM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Snap / explode / implode / derail / rattle / cross the line / break [their] spirit?

Wow this is really interesting to think about. Good question!
posted by Crookshanks_Meow at 2:51 AM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Run amok.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 3:29 AM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Flip out? But weird and eccentric are not the same as going crazy! Many of us here are considered weird or eccentric by others, but we are relatively sane.

To trip really doesn't work.

I think maybe it would help if you could clarify what you mean. Do you mean a person who develops a serious mental illness? Or someone who gets very upset about something- perhaps legitimately so- and flips out?
posted by mareli at 5:19 AM on September 12, 2016


discombobulate
posted by maloon at 5:54 AM on September 12, 2016


If archaic or defunct verbs are OK: mad
posted by flabdablet at 6:06 AM on September 12, 2016


Redneck. "She just got totally redneck about that."
Twirled. "The guy twirled on me."
Looped the loop. "That mope really looped the fkn loop."
Spun. "She totally spun!
Cross-footed. "She got totally cross-footed behind that.
Left-handed. "The guy went left-handed."
South-sided. "The guy totally south-sided."

Some of those last three are mix and match; could be left-footed, or south-footed
posted by dancestoblue at 6:28 AM on September 12, 2016


Unravelled
posted by madstop1 at 8:15 AM on September 12, 2016


The OED says these words mean 'go mad' or 'be mad,' sometimes in obsolete senses:

rave
rage
craze
distract
mang
wig
debacchate
delire
drivel
rove
vary
wood
posted by crazy with stars at 8:31 AM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Supplementing the excellent research by crazy with stars, the Historical Thesaurus of the OED adds dwele, wede, awede, stare, mad, fool, walt, forcene, and maddle; they're in chronological order, with dwele dying out in the 12th century and maddle still used dialectically in the 19th. Great question!
posted by languagehat at 8:39 AM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Norwegians say it, "Go Texas."
posted by Oyéah at 10:18 AM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


"become psychotic" or "have a psychotic break".
posted by SemiSalt at 10:37 AM on September 12, 2016


Since people don't seem to be paying attention, the asker is looking for a single English word. As in one word. Not two, not four, but one.
posted by languagehat at 11:24 AM on September 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Brits madden; Americans craze.
posted by Violet Blue at 12:23 PM on September 12, 2016


To unhinge
To derail
To unravel
To flip
To break
To crack
To freak
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:43 PM on September 12, 2016


He/she snapped; yep that's my vote.
posted by soakimbo at 9:10 PM on September 12, 2016


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