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Word Count: 1,672
Mad props That trick you did was insane Youre the craziest of the crazy Youve gone mad You have spiraled into mental insanity Youre completely crazy and must be institutionalized These two contrasting examples colorfully demonstrate the vast range of semantic meaning which can be used for words in the English language relating to mental insanity Loony Mad Cuckoo Insane Crazy Disturbed Nuts Deranged Demented Fanatic Each of these terms has been at some point used in the English language to describe the condition of mental illness The explanation for why the English language has so many terms to express what seems to be one idea is not at first apparent Although it may at first appear that these words are identical in meaning further consideration reveals that this is far from the case While each word in this group can be taken to mean mentally insane each word has a different and unique way of expressing this idea Moreover slang usage of many of the words in the insane grouping have thrusted many of these terms into a new and entirely different semantic realm This paper will discuss the various terms within the insane grouping and the interesting semantic changes that they have encountered Furthermore the possible origin and causes of these semantic differences will be explored Perhaps the oldest word to describe one who is mentally ill in the English language is the word lunatic The word was first used in the English Language in the 13th century If we break the word apart the prefix lun refers to the moon and the suffix atic refers to a person Thus literally translated lunatic means moon person This is due to the middle age wisdom that the moon caused abnormal immoral or otherwise unacceptable behavior According to the Oxford English Dictionary lunatic means affected with the kind of insanity that was supposed to have recurring periods dependent on the changes of the moon1 Lunatic
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