Last week, one of Xoe’s vocabulary words was bedlam. And while her book told her what it means, this is my daughter. She also wanted to know where it came from. So naturally, Mama hops over to etymonline.com
And I learned something!
I never had any idea where the word came from, but it’s a shortened form of “Bethlehem,” apparently. In medieval London there was a priory called “Saint Mary of Bethlehem,” which became a hospital in the 1300s, and specifically one for lunatics by 1400. In wills as early as 1440, it was referred to as “Hospital of Saint Mary of Bedlam,” or sometimes “Betleem.” Bedlam was the most common abbreviation, though…and the place was infamous for its scenes of confusion and madness.
Because of that, bedlam was used for any scene of mad confusion by the 1600s.
I never would have guessed that one!