The world, it is mad.
January 19, 2008 10:39 PM   Subscribe

Does the phrase "It's a mad, mad world" have an origin?

Googling "It's a mad mad world" or "mad world" only gets me the Stanley Kramer movie and a bunch of songs.

So who said it (or wrote it) first? Thanks.
posted by misozaki to Writing & Language (4 answers total)
Kramer took his title from a 1605 Thomas Middleton play called "A Mad World, My Masters." (The three extra "mads" appear to be Kramer's innovation; he considered adding another but decided it would be redundant.)

In turn, Middleton's title is a lift from a writer named Nicholas Breton, who published a prose dialogue by the name in 1603. Apparently the phrase was a popular English slogan of the time: "'Tis a mad world, my masters."
posted by Iridic at 10:59 PM on January 19, 2008 [4 favorites]

Well, I first heard it at the tender age of six, but there were two extra "mad"s in that one: My grandma took me to see It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Obviously not the first use, but, hey, they had more "mad"s, and that's gotta count for something!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:47 PM on January 19, 2008

Whoops. Well, that would be the aforementioned Stanley Kramer movie.

I have failed at AskMeFi.

I should just stick to the blue, and the occasional song at MeFiMu.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:49 PM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thank you, Iridic, that's exactly the kind of information I was hoping to get! I was half expecting to be told that it was just something that's been around without any specific source. I also didn't expect the origin to be quite so old, so now I've got some interesting reading to look into.

Hi, flapjax! Don't just stick to the blue and black! The green needs you!
posted by misozaki at 2:07 AM on January 20, 2008

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