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.
- 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.
- (UK) 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.