Definition of madhouse in US English:



  • 1A mental institution.

    • ‘As for Van Gogh, he was confined in a madhouse for one reason; he was a madman.’
    • ‘Anyway, according to Peig, that's where all the insane went before there was such a thing as a madhouse or an asylum.’
    • ‘If you get too earnest about them, you could suffer the fate of Victorian painter Richard Dadd, whose obsessively detailed paintings of fairy scenes may have been his ticket to the madhouse.’
    • ‘Written at the request of his father, the work focused on the abuses common in the madhouses of the time, and gave direction to the urgent need for reform.’
    • ‘One half of Customers and Patrons constitutes a transcription (with detailed annotation) of a case book of Dr John Monro, the physician to the Bethlem Asylum and the proprietor of several madhouses in the London region.’
    psychiatric hospital, mental hospital, mental institution, mental asylum, institution
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    1. 1.1informal A psychiatric hospital.
      • ‘Agustín says he is leaving the madhouse for criminal lunatics before he becomes crazy too.’
      • ‘Inside, it smelled more like a madhouse than a clinic.’
      • ‘He is amazed that Sonia has not succumbed to any of the three usual ways open for someone in her situation: the canal, the madhouse, or total submission to depravity.’
      • ‘Asked if he would stay on as head coach, Obradovic said: ‘That would lead me straight to a madhouse.’’
      • ‘A comparable effect can be found in the Brothers Quay's latest, In Absentia, where light plays menacingly over a doll-house-size madhouse.’
      • ‘In middle age, framed by a rival in love, he even endured the indignities of incarceration in a madhouse.’
      • ‘I'm sorry we lose the ransom; but it was either that or Bill Driscoll to the madhouse.’
      • ‘But in the madhouse there is sometimes less madness than in real life as Antonio's ‘change’ demonstrates.’
      • ‘The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse, and often detours or ends there.’
      • ‘Any therapist would probably just look at me one time and write on my chart ‘HEAD GONE’ and ship me off to the madhouse.’
      • ‘‘Hi, Mr. Treacher,’ I said quietly, feeling as if I had been thrown into a madhouse.’
      • ‘For the most part, the press now fulfill the same function for the party that kindly nurses do at the madhouse; if the guy thinks he's Napoleon, just smile affably and ask him how Waterloo's going.’
      • ‘He'd explained with so much compassion that medicine had no answers, that Ross's future was likely to be spent in a madhouse, chained to a wall or a bed to keep him from hurting himself or anyone else.’
      • ‘The ‘Where’ is the campus of the alternative high school, ‘the claustrophobic madhouse.’’
      • ‘But they've shut up the madhouse and nobody knows if they're coming or going.’
      • ‘The idea is that America has become a madhouse, but the film's idiotic storyline and grotesque stereotypes of mental illness undercut its intended social impact.’
      • ‘The patients were held to basic standards of decent behavior and made to do chores in an environment more like a disciplined summer camp (or a well-run college group home) than a madhouse or hospital.’
      • ‘Humour and a sense of the ridiculous form the microscopic thread that keeps us out of the madhouse, monastery, convent, or whatever.’
      • ‘I was about 13 and I just thought, I'm in a madhouse, everybody is mad, so you do develop defences.’
      • ‘The person who came up with this programme is a madman from a madhouse, a madman but a genius.’
      mental hospital, mental institution, psychiatric hospital, asylum
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    2. 1.2informal in singular A scene of extreme confusion or uproar.
      ‘this place is a madhouse’
      • ‘It has, over time, become a business-driven madhouse.’
      • ‘Now more than ever, I'm happy to be a Brooklyn resident, away from the madhouse this convention has caused.’
      • ‘The office of the Ayurveda Congress is a madhouse of activity.’
      • ‘The supermarkets understandably turn into madhouses the day before a hurricane's arrival, but I wonder about the grocery lists of some of the customers.’
      • ‘You will work with Japanese teachers at your schools and the locations vary from extremely rural to the madhouse that is Tokyo.’
      • ‘‘This is a madhouse in here,’ said a clearly pleased Oliver Goldesberry.’
      • ‘Valencia Street on the Friday of Folsom Street Fair weekend is a madhouse.’
      • ‘Welcome to the madhouse that is the build-up to the opening night of a pantomime.’
      • ‘‘From there, it's a madhouse for two hours, because we are trying to get out 52 trucks without any problems,’ says Diggs.’
      • ‘And would one's meal be as enjoyable if the restaurant lacked a staff whose unflagging charm turns what could be a madhouse into a many-splendored thing?’
      • ‘It's tough to find an audience for an intimate, thoughtful little movie in the summer movie madhouse, but Care isn't worried.’
      • ‘It ended up being such a mob scene, such a madhouse, I didn't leave until Sunday night.’
      • ‘Or, actually, I can wait, because I have to - did I mention that today is a madhouse over here?’
      • ‘It's a madhouse as usual, everyone running around getting ready.’
      • ‘Both of them are at school, so it's a madhouse getting ready before we leave.’
      • ‘Everyone was made welcome not a hindrance as on some other sites and even getting parking for trucks and gear unloaded was handled in a helpful and friendly way although it was a complete madhouse as you would expect so close to opening.’
      • ‘The place is a madhouse and colorful beyond description.’
      • ‘Beds occupied the lounge room floor, bags rested on all other available space, showers had become a hazard and dinnertime, coming as it did at five in the afternoon so that she could join in, made the kitchen a crowded madhouse.’
      • ‘Most of them ended up using magic for the wrong reasons and it was gettin’ to be a madhouse in the magical world.’
      • ‘‘It might be too much of a madhouse for the kids, but I'd love for them to be with me,’ Chaiken says from the ‘L Word’ set in Vancouver.’
      bedlam, mayhem, babel, chaos, pandemonium, uproar, turmoil, wild disarray, scene of confusion, disorder, hurly-burly, tumult, jumble, pell-mell, hullabaloo, hubbub, whirlwind, maelstrom, madness, all hell broken loose
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