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Feb 19, 2010
This week's theme
Words with London connections

This week's words
billingsgate
Star Chamber
Fleet Street
Grub Street
bedlam

Bedlam
at Bethlehem Hospital St. Mary of Bethlehem
(Artist: William Hogarth, painted 1732-33)

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Latin terms in English
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

bedlam

PRONUNCIATION:
(BED-luhm)

MEANING:
noun: A scene of wild uproar and confusion.

ETYMOLOGY:
Alteration of the name Bethlehem, a hospital for the insane in London.

NOTES:
The Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London, now known as Bethlem Royal Hospital, is the oldest hospital for treating the mentally ill. The treatment was not always what's considered the norm today. At one time the "sane" used to go see the "insane" as if in a zoo -- there was an admission ticket. The William Hogarth painting of the Bedlam on the right shows fashionable ladies visiting the hospital to amuse themselves by gawking at the patients.
See the art of the hospital inmates at The Bethlem Gallery.

USAGE:
"As estimates of the Haitian death toll topped 100,000 Friday, government officials here scrambled to reach more than 1,400 Canadians who are still unaccounted for amidst the rubble and bedlam in that country."
Les Whittington; 1,415 Canadians Missing; Toronto Star (Canada); Jan 16, 2010.

See more usage examples of bedlam in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The being cannot be termed rational or virtuous, who obeys any authority, but that of reason. -Mary Wollstonecraft, reformer and writer (1759-1797)

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