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Stir-crazy is a twentieth century term that originated in the United States. We will examine the meaning of the term stir-crazy, its origin and some examples of its use in sentences.

Stir-crazy describes being mentally disturbed due to a long confinement, whether alone or with others. Stir-crazy was originally a prison term, coined around the turn of the twentieth century. In this case, stir was and still is a slang term for prison, in use since the 1850s. The origin of the term stir for prison is most probably the Romani word stariben, sometimes shortened to star. Today, stir-crazy may describe any situation in which a person has become mentally disturbed due to a long confinement, such as during a blizzard or because of illness. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the term with a hyphen, as in stir-crazy, though the term is often rendered as two words, as in stir crazy.


Owner Jennifer Sullivan, who said she is going a little stir-crazy while the doors are closed, is steadily picking up the pieces of her beloved business and trying to be patient. (The Ukiah Daily Journal)

“Our girls were a little stir crazy at the beginning of the season because we didn’t do a whole lot before spring break,” Hilsendeger said. (The Spokeman-Review)

“We send them a little piece of solace to keep them from going stir-crazy and hopefully they’ll be better people when they get out.” (The Pensacola News Journal)

The Scots went stir crazy, too, with Edinburgh’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, deciding that the time was right for another referendum on Scottish independence, despite a majority of Scots not wanting one. (The Belfast Telegraph)

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