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Bunnies or Basketballs: A March Madness Exploration

basketball

A few years ago, Brendan Koerner over at Slate chronicled the evolution of the name of the annual college basketball tournament March Madness. He reminds us that there was actually a civil lawsuit about whether the college teams could use the term, which had been used by a high-school tournament in Illinois.

The expression has referred to basketball games since 1908, but long before that March was associated with another kind of madness. Beginning in the mid-1900s, people began using March madness to refer to “a form of madness or uncharacteristic behaviour said to affect people in March” (according to the OED). The expression may have come from the erratic, tempestuous weather of the season; alternatively it may have something to do with hares, a larger relative of the common rabbit.

The aphorism “as mad as a March hare,” has been around since at least the mid-1500s and refers to the phenomenon of hares becoming very aggressive during breeding season in March. The expression March mad, which may be a shortening of the aphorism, emerged shortly thereafter in the early 1600s. In an 1872 magazine Odd and Ends, the writer notes “How is a hare madder in March than at any other time? or how is its March madness displayed?” Lewis Carroll nods to this bunny cliché with his characters the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, both of whom appear in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

(Where did the month name March come from? Does it have anything to do with marching?)

These earlier senses of March madness are derived from the sense of mad meaning “abnormally furious.” Today in American English mad chiefly means “angry,” whereas in British English it can often mean “crazy.” Today the NCAA March Madness incites both anger and insanity, depending on your brackets.

42 Comments

  1. tiffany -  March 28, 2015 - 9:50 am

    i love emojjis too

    Reply
  2. dog -  March 26, 2015 - 6:17 pm

    COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • cat -  March 26, 2015 - 6:19 pm

      you should cut down on the exclamation marks, dude!

      Reply
      • tiffany -  March 28, 2015 - 9:51 am

        true!!!!

        Reply
    • Swaggy Bo$$ -  March 28, 2015 - 7:51 am

      COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
    • mr noodles -  March 30, 2015 - 12:53 pm

      AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
      • Plant Monster -  March 30, 2015 - 7:01 pm

        They’re eating her….and then they are going to eat me….

        OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.

        Reply
  3. dog -  March 26, 2015 - 6:14 pm

    awosme

    Reply
  4. Er Me Gersh -  March 26, 2015 - 9:00 am

    <3

    Reply
  5. Er Me Gersh -  March 26, 2015 - 9:00 am

    Er me gersh! Cool

    Reply
  6. steelernation -  March 26, 2015 - 8:32 am

    basketball is better than bunnies so is football not soccer football but quarterback football anybody agree

    Reply
    • sparkle -  March 31, 2015 - 9:42 am

      yes i think so i agree

      Reply
  7. boyeeee -  March 26, 2015 - 6:16 am

    GO TARHEELS

    Reply
    • billy bob joe -  March 31, 2015 - 4:32 pm

      Tar Heels have already lost the whole thing! Go DUKE!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
  8. a -  March 25, 2015 - 7:57 pm

    boble wagin shnofflet

    Reply
  9. Maybe Later (MSP) -  March 25, 2015 - 1:54 pm

    I WANT TO KNOW HOW TO MAKE AN EMOJI FACE ON DIS WEBSITE!!! X-O

    Reply
  10. TexMex -  March 25, 2015 - 12:38 pm

    Anyone play realm? LOL :P :D

    Reply
  11. Ross -  March 25, 2015 - 10:31 am
    Reply
  12. Billy Bob Joe The Redneck -  March 24, 2015 - 8:04 am

    Kiłł a cat and then a c
    Kiłł at cat and then a co
    Kill a cat and then a cow
    Kill a cat and then a cow and then a b
    Kill a cat and then a cow and then a bu
    Kill a cat and then a cow and then a bug

    Reply
    • HCMSgirl -  March 24, 2015 - 7:11 pm

      WHY??!!!

      Reply
      • Maybe Later (MSP) -  March 25, 2015 - 1:51 pm

        lol add meh on moviestarplanet i am maybe later125 trololololol BOREDD…O_O PATRICK STAR IS AWESOME!!!!

        Reply
  13. EDWARD -  March 20, 2015 - 6:49 pm

    MAD CAP….TIP OF THE HATLO HAT MUCH THANKS

    Reply
  14. EDWARD -  March 20, 2015 - 6:46 pm

    TIP OF THE HATLO HAT GREAT MADCAP

    Reply
  15. EDWARD -  March 20, 2015 - 6:43 pm

    TIP OF THE HATLO HAT MADCAP SALUTE MARCH 20,2015

    Reply
  16. Natalia Klimas -  March 28, 2014 - 4:18 pm

    The term “mad as a hatter” = crazy and comes from the days of hat-making when they were made of felt. Felt was made with mercury and mercury poisoning of hat-makers displayed in the form of dementia.

    Reply
  17. A dude -  March 27, 2014 - 6:08 pm

    Yay second comment.

    I somewhat know this already, but it is still interesting.

    Reply
  18. Orchard apple boysy america rules -  March 27, 2014 - 4:50 pm

    :) h
    :) he
    :) hel
    :) hell
    :) hello

    Reply
    • Billy Bob Joe The Redneck -  March 24, 2015 - 8:05 am

      Santa is real

      Reply
      • lin chin -  March 24, 2015 - 6:16 pm

        AGREED 100% LITERALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :O)
        I GET PRESENTS
        HE EATS MY COOKIES
        HE LEAVES LETTERS

        Reply
      • Maybe Later (MSP) -  March 25, 2015 - 1:52 pm

        XD lool true =^.^= NOT (REMEMBER THAT POTATO UFOS R REALZZZZZ) PWEDIEPIE BRO

        Reply
    • lin chin -  March 24, 2015 - 6:13 pm

      YASS TOTES GAL!!

      Reply
  19. Orchard apple boysy america rules -  March 27, 2014 - 4:49 pm

    :)
    :)
    :)
    :)
    :)

    Reply
    • lin chin -  March 24, 2015 - 6:15 pm

      my birrrrthhhhhhhhdaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy

      Reply
  20. Orchard apple boysy america rules -  March 27, 2014 - 4:48 pm

    really well thats lovely

    :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

    Reply
    • lin chin -  March 24, 2015 - 6:14 pm

      I AM LIKE TOTES OBSESSED W/ EMOJIS GALLLLSSSS

      Reply
  21. Eileen -  March 27, 2014 - 3:48 am

    thanks, I love learning about the origins of words!!

    Reply
  22. Bob Lidstone -  March 21, 2015 - 3:21 am

    The name of the month of March comes from the Roman god of war, Mars.

    Reply
  23. Billy Bob Joe The Redneck -  March 24, 2015 - 8:04 am

    Nuh uh it comes from the month idiot

    Reply
  24. lin chin -  March 24, 2015 - 6:17 pm

    DUHH

    Reply
  25. HCMSgirl -  March 24, 2015 - 7:12 pm

    AGREED!!

    Reply

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