Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Mad As A Box Of Frogs

Posted by Elyse Bruce on October 9, 2013

When Jerry Flowers made mention last month of a certain situation that was as crazy as a box of frogs, Idiomation leapt into action to hunt down the meaning and history of this idiom, also known as mad as a box of frogs. The next time someone says that a person or situation is as mad as a box of frogs, you can be certain what’s being described is a crazy state of mind. It’s an odd expression to say the least since having a box of frogs isn’t something most people would keep, but it certainly goes to the heart of how crazy being mad as a box of frogs surely is. The description given on the website rateyourmusic.com some time in 2012 by member mon_amie_la_rose1 gave this retrospective description of a performance by Polly Jean (PJ) Harvey at the Newcastle Riverside on April 7, 1992.

She was pretty much a cult artist at this time, mad as a box of frogs, great show!

Model Paula Hamilton make it into the Mirror newspaper in the UK on May 29, 2011 with a brief story entitled, “Paula Hamilton’s As Mad As A Box Of Frogs” which related the story of about how showbiz foes were turning on Paula.  Claiming to be a dyslexic dyspeptic autistic, the story reported this about Paula Hamilton:

When her exasperated showbiz foes rounded on her because she’s mad as a box of frogs, potty Paula Hamilton stormed: “I’m just one big funny joke!”

Not to be outdone, when Ex-Security Minister Admiral Lord West spoke out against the £3.4 million sale of Harrier jump-jets to the US and referred to is as complete madness, the Sun newspaper carried the story in their June 16, 2011 edition. The story was entitled, “Mad As Box Of Frogs.” When the Herald de Paris newspaper carried a story by BBC music reporter Ian Youngs on January 9, 2009 the subject of the story was singer Victoria Hesketh aka Little Boots whose music was a described as being influenced by Kylie Minogue, David Bowie and Gary Numan. In the article, the recording artist was quoted as saying:

“There are tons of credible pop artists. Look at David Bowie – he’s a massive selling artist, and he’s bloody weird, absolutely mad. Kate Bush – mad as a box of frogs.”

Back on April 16, 2004 the Independent newspaper out of Ireland carried a news story on sports personality, David Beckham and Sarah Marbeck, a self-described model and alleged Beckham mistress. But as the story began to unravel, those who followed the story were informed that the woman didn’t have the kind of relationship she initially claimed to have with David Beckham. The story was entitled, “Beckham’s ‘Mistress No. 2’ Is Revealed As A Bit Of A Slapper: Now There’s A Slapper” and had this to say about the woman.

Following the revelations that a) she is as mad as a box of frogs and b) she worked as a not particularly successful hooker in Australia and Singapore, media gossip site popbitch.com yesterday carried some even stranger claims about the woman.

Prior to this date, the expression doesn’t seem to appear in writing or on the Internet. However, on a number of Irish forums and in discussion groups, the expression is claimed as an Irish expression with no other culture laying claim to it.  If this is true, then the expression has seen an impressive resurgence in the UK and Ireland over the past decade. That being said, Idiomation was unable to pinpoint when this expression first came into use. Perhaps some of our readers has the answer. If so, Idiomation would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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3 Responses to “Mad As A Box Of Frogs”

  1. Thomas Jones said

    I think Leonard Cohen uses the phrase in The Favourite game. It’s some thirty years since I read it but if I remember rightly, and I could be wrong, he used it as, ‘a face like a box of frogs’. Read it yourself to make sure, I don’t want to again.

  2. There was a band in the mid 80s called Box of Frogs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Box_of_Frogs

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