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slang A psychiatric hospital or insane asylum. From a glib adaptation of the word "lunatic," the phrase is now considered tactless at best, extremely insulting at worst. Back in my grandfather's time, anyone suffering from severe depression or anxiety would have just been thrown in the loony bin, so people suffered in silence and in secret. When she joked about putting someone like my brother in the loony bin, I threw my drink in her face and walked out of the restaurant.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
n. an insane asylum; a mental hospital. Today’s loony bins are far different from those of just a few decades ago.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Insane asylum. The word “lunatic” comes from the word for “moon”; madness was associated in many cultures with the effect of the phases of the moon on the human mind. From lunatic came loony, and loony bin was where insane people were incarcerated. The phrase is now considered insulting in the extreme, as are “booby hatch” (originally a covered passageway down a ship deck), “funny farm,” “drool academy,” and “foam rubber city” (a reference to padded cells).
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price