Where Did the Word Loony Come From and What Does the Term Loony Mean?

Although many believe that the word loony came from the loon’s laugh-like call, the word loony, or looney, is just a short version of the word lunatic.

Lunatic has been in use for almost 1,000 years and comes from luna, the “moon,” based on the belief that insanity was affected by the moon’s phases.

In contrast, the bird was first called a loon little more than 300 years ago.

The name probably comes from people confusing it with another diving water bird called a loom.

The two had a couple of things in common and the name stuck, having nothing to do with the bird’s call or any other specific characteristic.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

1 thought on “Where Did the Word Loony Come From and What Does the Term Loony Mean?”

  1. Actually, it more likely comes from the word lunatic which derives from the word luna because rumor has it when there is a full moon, people are more likely to act insane and they go loony. There are arguments whether or not people do go loony on a full moon, but throughout the centuries there are stories of people going crazy from serial killers to werewolves when there is a full moon out.

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