Saturday, 2 April 2011
Mad as hell
Today's word is mad - and its many meanings and implications. In British English, the word simply means 'insane', and that's what it means. In American English, it means angry.. and from what I have seen, any gradation along the line from 'ticked off' to 'mad as hell and not about to take it any more!'
The problem non-native speakers and English learners encounter with Americanisms, is that distinctions of meaning are often lost. Another problem is unintentional ambiguity.
Tonight, I listened to the American TV show 'Supernatural'. Dean and Sam checked themselves into a mental hospital, where they were pretending to be mad (BE usage, insane). By the end of the episode, Sam realised that he had a problem with anger - he 'got mad'! So at the end of the episode, he concluded that he 'was mad' - which stressed my English mind. They had been pretending to be mad (insane) and then Sam had 'got mad' (angry.) To use another Americanism, “enough already!”
ticked off: mildly annoyed. Also, 'hacked off', 'brassed off' and 'pissed off' (Beware another Americanism - they say 'pissed' to mean annoyed, which in New Zealand English, means 'drunk'.)
' mad as hell and not about to take it any more' - comes from a popular film from the 1970s, and means 'angry enough to rebel'.
'take it' in this context, means to endure something.
There is another use of take it - but why complicate matters further? After all, you can always ask!