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bedlam

[bed-luh m] /ˈbɛd ləm/
noun
1.
a scene or state of wild uproar and confusion.
2.
Archaic. an insane asylum or madhouse.
Origin
a popular name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London, which served as a lunatic asylum from circa 1400; compare Middle English Bedleem, Bethleem, Old English Betleem Bethlehem
Synonyms
1. disorder, tumult, chaos, clamor, turmoil, commotion, pandemonium.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for bedlam

bedlam

/ˈbɛdləm/
noun
1.
a noisy confused place or situation; state of uproar: his speech caused bedlam
2.
(archaic) a lunatic asylum; madhouse
Word Origin
C13 bedlem, bethlem, after the Hospital of St Mary of Bethlehem in London
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bedlam
n.

"scene of mad confusion," 1660s, from colloquial pronunciation of "Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem" in London, founded 1247 as a priory, mentioned as a hospital 1330 and as a lunatic hospital 1402; converted to a state lunatic asylum on dissolution of the monasteries in 1547. It was spelled Bedlem in a will from 1418, and Betleem is recorded as a spelling of Bethlehem in Judea from 971.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for bedlam

Bedlam

the first asylum for the mentally ill in England. It is currently located in Beckenham, Kent. The word bedlam came to be used generically for all psychiatric hospitals and sometimes is used colloquially for an uproar.

Learn more about Bedlam with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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