But, Why? Etymology Edition: “As Mad as a Hatter”

“As Mad as a Hatter.”

14925785_1241259085936406_9040493475452678878_nHave you heard this phrase? Though the EXACT phrase isn’t actually used in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we know The Hatter’s character as quite mad! It’s beleived that The Hatter’s character was inspired by the mercury poisoning hat makers often suffered from in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries (Grammarly Blog, 2015).

Hat makers used mercury nitrate to turn certain furs into felt that was used for the hats they were making (History.com, 2015). Symptoms included slurred speech, tremors, irritability, shyness, depression, and neurological symptoms (CDC, 2010).

Johnny Depp’s 2010 portrayal of Carroll’s Hatter in Tim Burton’s film version of Alice in Wonderland very much played off the symptoms associated with mercury poisoning and is known as The Mad Hatter instead of The Hatter.



14 Expressions with Crazy Origins that You Would Never Have Guessed. (2016, August 29). Retrieved from https://www.grammarly.com/blog/14-expressions-with-crazy-origins-that-you-would-never-have-guessed/

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (2012, August 06). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-03-04-10.html

Where did the phrase “mad as a hatter” come from? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/where-did-the-phrase-mad-as-a-hatter-come-from

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Hello! My name is Britney and I am a writer specializing in life writing.

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