- a scene or state of wild uproar and confusion.
- Archaic. an insane asylum or madhouse.
- a noisy confused place or situation; state of uproarhis speech caused bedlam
- archaic a lunatic asylum; madhouse
“scene of mad confusion,” 1660s, from colloquial pronunciation of “Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem” in London, founded 1247 as a priory, mentioned as a hospital 1330 and as a lunatic hospital 1402; converted to a state lunatic asylum on dissolution of the monasteries in 1547. It was spelled Bedlem in a will from 1418, and Betleem is recorded as a spelling of Bethlehem in Judea from 971.