July 11, 2007

Mad as a hatter

Mad as a hatter - Crazy, demented

Reminds you of Alice's companion in her wonderland? I used to think the expression was Lewis Carroll's gift to the language just as jabberwocky is. Turns out the phrase was popular well before Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" was published. "Mad hatter syndrome" was actually a medical affliction in Carroll's times.In the mid-1800s, hat makers used hot solutions of mercuric nitrate to shape wool felt hats and prolonged exposure to mercury vapors caused severe neurological damage ranging from uncontrollable muscular twitching (known as "hatter's shakes") to dementia. Hatters working in poorly ventilated workshops would breathe in (elemental) mercury vapor and in advanced cases, developed hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms.

Source: http://www.word-detective.com
Pic : www.rjohnwright.com

8 comments:

Radha said...

Wierd! Who would've thought hat-making could be such a hazardous thing!!

Moi said...

Crazy, right??? And I thought carpets were insidious ...turns out hats were no better!!!!!

suramya said...

reminds me of the poor kids who work in the cracker factories, what an apt phrase to describe my present condition.

666 said...

mercuric nitrate ... hhmm .. that shud be Hg(NO3)2

Moi said...

Su : done with exams????? then u should be "happy as a lark" , not "mad as a hatter"!!!! :) glad to see u back :)

666: showing off??? :DD
u are speaking with a qualified Chem Engr :)
there was a confusion in "literature" available as to if it was mercuric or mercurous nitrate!!!! If it's mercurous then it will be HgNO3 :)

Moi said...

* to a qualified

666 said...

moi: did you inhale too much of those mercury vapors during your engineering?

Moi said...

haha...does it show so blatantly ???? ....it was one of my better kept secrets!!! haha