Monday, January 5, 2009

Madding crowd v. maddening crowd

From Garner's Usage Tip of the Day

madding crowd; maddening crowd

By historical convention, "madding crowd" is the idiom, dating from the late 16th century. Unlike "maddening," which describes the effect on the observer, "madding" (= frenzied) describes the crowd itself.
Thomas Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" (1749) and Thomas Hardy's novel Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) helped establish this idiom, especially Gray's "far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife."

In modern writing, "madding crowd" remains about seven times as common as its corrupted form.

But some writers get it wrong -- e.g.:

o "Far from the maddening crowd [read 'madding crowd'] of shoppers and away from the tinsel and mistletoe, Grinches, apparently, are everywhere." Mike Pellegrini, "Bah! Humbug!" Pitt. Post-Gaz., 22 Dec. 1996.
o "'Being typecast would bother me if my career weren't flourishing outside of the show,' the 47-year-old Williams says earnestly in a tiny office away from the maddening crowd [read 'madding crowd']." Joel Reese, "Here's the Story, of a Man Named Williams," Chicago Daily Herald, 13 Aug. 2002, Suburban Living.

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laura huizenga said...

Thank you.

Clarence Critchlow said...
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Marvin the Mad Martian said...

SMH, this is maddening.