doolally tap

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From Deolali (the name of a former British army camp 100 miles north-east of Bombay, used as a transit station for soldiers awaiting transport back to Britain) + tap (from Persian or Urdu تب(tab, malarial fever), ultimately from Sanskrit ताप(tāpa, heat; fever)).
According to one theory, to go doolally tap was to go crazy waiting.

Alternative forms[edit]


doolally tap ‎(uncountable)

  1. Camp fever; by extension, madness, eccentricity.
    • 1971, Brian Aldiss, "A Soldier Erect"
      Mrrhhhh, nothing wrong with me, sergeant, it's just the old Doolally Tap.
    • 1994, Maurice Hayes, ‎Seamus Heaney, "Sweet Killough: Let Go Your Anchor"
      'The Doolally tap,' my father would say, mysteriously, and McAllister would agree.
    • 2008, Amitav Ghosh, "Sea of Poppies"
      It would probably give Mrs Doughty an attack of the Doolally-tap.
    • 2009, Annie Murray, "A Hopscotch Summer"
      'He's got the doolally-taps,' she'd heard Bob say when they mentioned him, and he usually rolled his eyes and tapped his temple when he said it even though he didn't speak unkindly.


doolally tap ‎(comparative more doolally tap, superlative most doolally tap)

  1. (Britain) Mad, insane, eccentric.
    • 1985, John E. Gardner, The Secret Generations, page 294,
      Going a bit doolally-tap, if you ask me. Getting odd ideas.
    • 1993, Catherine Cookson, My Beloved Son, page 355,
      The whole family think I've gone doolally-tap; all except Mick, that is.
    • 1994, Julia Grant, Just Julia: The Story of an Extraordinary Woman, page 198,
      Most thought that the prison sentence had sent me doolally tap.
    • 1996, Erin Pizzey, Kisses, page 277,
      Madam has gone quite definitely doolally tap, if you'll pardon the rather common expression.
    • 2007, Martina Cole, Faces, unnumbered page,
      If he had not paid her phone bills she would have gone doolally tap, as her mother used to say, without a friendly voice now and then.

Derived terms[edit]