Bedlam vs nuthouse what difference

what is difference between Bedlam and nuthouse



From Bedlam, alternative name of the English lunatic asylum, Bethlem Royal Hospital (royal hospital from 1375, mental hospital from 1403) (earlier St Mary of Bethlehem outside Bishopsgate, hospice in existence from 1329, priory established 1247), since used to mean “a place or situation of madness and chaos”. Bedlam as name of hospital attested 1450.

Phonologically, corruption of Bethlem, itself a corruption of Bethlehem (the Biblical town), from Ancient Greek Βηθλεέμ (Bēthleém) from Biblical Hebrew בֵּית לֶחֶם(bêṯ leḥem, literally house of bread).


  • IPA(key): /ˈbɛdləm/


bedlam (plural bedlams)

  1. A place or situation of chaotic uproar, and where confusion prevails.
  2. (obsolete) An insane person; a lunatic; a madman.
    • ca. 1605, William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act III, sc. 7:
      Let’s follow the old Earl, and get the Bedlam
      To lead him where he would; his roguish madness
      Allows itself to anything.
    • 1678, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian overtakes Faithful:
      The pilgrims were clothed with such kind of raiment as was diverse from the raiment of any that traded in that fair. The people, therefore, of the fair, made a great gazing upon them: some said they were fools, some they were bedlams, and some they are outlandish men.
  3. (obsolete) A lunatic asylum; a madhouse.
    • 1824, Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto XIV:lxxxiv:
      Shut up the world at large, let Bedlam out;
      And you will be perhaps surprised to find
      All things pursue exactly the same route,
      As now with those of soi-disant sound mind.
    • 1843, Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”:
      “There’s another fellow,” muttered Scrooge; who overheard him: “my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas. I’ll retire to Bedlam.”
    • ca. 1909, Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth, Letter II:
      … only the holy can stand the joys of that bedlam.

Derived terms

all bedlam breaks loose


  • Russian: бедла́м (bedlám)


Further reading

  • Bethlem Royal Hospital on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
  • bedlam in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.


  • ambled, balmed, beldam, blamed, lambed



nut +‎ house



nuthouse (plural nuthouses)

  1. (informal, offensive) A hospital for the mentally ill.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:mental hospital



  • nuthouse at OneLook Dictionary Search

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