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[loo-nuh-tik] /ˈlu nə tɪk/
(no longer in technical use; now considered offensive) an insane person.
a person whose actions and manner are marked by extreme eccentricity or recklessness.
a person legally declared to be of unsound mind and who therefore is not held capable or responsible before the law: a former legal term.
adjective, Also, lunatical
[loo-nat-i-kuh l] /luˈnæt ɪ kəl/ (Show IPA),
(for defs 4, 5, 7).
(no longer in technical use; now considered offensive) insane.
characteristic or suggestive of lunacy; wildly or recklessly foolish.
Older Use. designated for or used by the insane:
a lunatic asylum.
gaily or lightheartedly mad, frivolous, eccentric, etc.:
She has a lunatic charm that is quite engaging.
Origin of lunatic
1250-1300; Middle English lunatik < Old French lunatique < Late Latin lūnāticus moonstruck. See Luna, -atic
Related forms
lunatically, adverb
half-lunatic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for lunatic
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mr. Hobson, if you don't mend your manners, I'll certify you for a lunatic asylum.

    Hobson's Choice Harold Brighouse
  • This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two other people in.

    A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens
  • I wanted to hoist an ensign, union down, but the lunatic prevented me; his intelligence had left him.

    The Grain Ship Morgan Robertson
  • "I'm certainly not going to certify that boy as a lunatic," he said.

    Lady Bountiful George A. Birmingham
  • Another writ of habeas corpus took me out of jail, and I at last turned my back on the Tombs—a lunatic by judicial decree.

British Dictionary definitions for lunatic


an archaic word for insane
foolish; eccentric; crazy
a person who is insane
Derived Forms
lunatically, adverb
Word Origin
C13 (adj) via Old French from Late Latin lūnāticus crazy, moonstruck, from Latin lūna moon
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 lunatic

late 13c., "affected with periodic insanity, dependent on the changes of the moon," from Old French lunatique, lunage "insane," or directly from Late Latin lunaticus "moon-struck," from Latin luna "moon" (see Luna). Cf. Old English monseoc "lunatic," literally "moon-sick;" Middle High German lune "humor, temper, mood, whim, fancy" (German Laune), from Latin luna. Cf. also New Testament Greek seleniazomai "be epileptic," from selene "moon." Lunatic fringe (1913) apparently was coined by U.S. politician Theodore Roosevelt.

Then, among the wise and high-minded people who in self-respecting and genuine fashion strive earnestly for peace, there are foolish fanatics always to be found in such a movement and always discrediting it -- the men who form the lunatic fringe in all reform movements. [Theodore Roosevelt, autobiography, 1913].
Earlier it was a term for a type of hairstyle worn over the forehead (1877). Lunatic soup (1933) was Australian slang for "alcoholic drink."


"lunatic person," late 14c., from lunatic (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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lunatic in the Bible

probably the same as epileptic, the symptoms of which disease were supposed to be more aggravated as the moon increased. In Matt. 4:24 "lunatics" are distinguished from demoniacs. In 17:15 the name "lunatic" is applied to one who is declared to have been possessed. (See DAEMONIAC.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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