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.


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[1], page 294:
      Going a bit doolally-tap, if you ask me. Getting odd ideas.
    • 1993, Catherine Cookson, My Beloved Son[2], 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[3], page 198:
      Most thought that the prison sentence had sent me doolally tap.
    • 1996, Erin Pizzey, Kisses[4], 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]