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Mad As a Hatter or a March Hare

Mad as a hatter been around a long time and many people think that it came about as a result of the Mad Hatter character in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll. However, this is not true.

Mad as a hatter comes from the poisonous hat-making industry in the 1700s and1800s. You are probably wondering what poisonous hats are. Well, those days workers used a toxic substance known as mercury nitrate in order to turn fur into a felt lining for hats. Since for many workers, this meant prolonged exposure to the toxins they began to tremble and hallucinate. This condition became known as hatter shakes and as a result, the idiom mad as a hatter became popular. Tragic but true.

As for the March hare, we met up with him when Alice began running after the white rabbit who was a March hare. It is known that hares behave very excitedly during this month. In defense of all hares supposedly it is not only a monthly thing but they behave oddly throughout their breeding season which lasts several months and thus it is no wonder because breeding is a very serious matter. So for anyone acting excited or nervous, they could be said to be acting as mad as a march hare,

Another phrase that is similar is hare-brained. I know that when I have had the occasion to act strangely I usually refer to myself as missing a few screws but then that is a completely different thing.  So for those who on occasion might become as mad as a March hare or those who know such people this phrase has been around since the 16th century so we are all in very good and old company.

  • Question /

    Have you heard about these idioms?

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  • Question /

    Do you know people who are as mad as a hatter or a march hare?

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What do you think?

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  1. it is always amazing to me as we consider how things were made. Mercury Nitrate is a really bad thing to be exposed to.

    Or radium, another bad thing. Hand-painted on watch faces sad that the radium girls (there are pictures of them with glowing fingers) had to sue the company to get health care paid for. Many died from that.

  2. I did not know about the poison in the top hats. Madness, well what in a world that frequently has wars and atrocities is sane?
    I cant understand people who live in a country that don’t seem to want to live in peace?
    Maybe war is about power and control and who gets what, or some old fued.
    You know people can get along if they really make an effort.

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