Green’s Dictionary of Slang

loony n.

also looney, loonie, lunie, luny
[SE lunatic; or loon n.1 ]

a fool, an eccentric, a mad person.

[UK]G. Colman Yngr Wags of Windsor 15: Enter Looney Mactwolter, l.h. with a hay-fork on his shoulder [...] Bull. What brought you here? Looney: Hay-making. — Look — this is a fork. Bull. Well, I see that. Looney: Hire me; — then I’ll have a knife to it — and prettily I’ll toss about your beef.
[UK]‘Boz’ Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi 161: Sadler’s Wells opened at Easter, April 3, 1809 [...] Grimaldi played Clown, with the Song of ‘Looney’s Lamentation for Miss Margery Muggins’.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 80/2: Duz thau reckon I’m a luny, t’ go an’ leev ‘graft’ wi such a goad chance loike this?
[US]C. White Pompey’s Patients 3: It’s been pretty lively down among the lunies.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 16 Sept. 6/5: Who you — son of a luny, how did you do that?
Dly Globe (St Paul, Minn) 16 Sept. 2/5: ‘The Loonatics Walking Home’ [...] The cats do screech, the dogs do shout / [...] / ’Cause the loonies come walking home.
[Ind]Kipling ‘The Likes O’ Us’ in Civil & Military Gaz. 4 Feb. (1909) 107: ‘[S]o long as ’e’s drunk, ’e’s mad — a looney’.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘More Echoes from the Old Museum’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 180: A pretty lot of lunies in a Government asylum.
[UK]Kipling Captains Courageous cap 1: 🌐 Dad sez loonies can't shake out a straight yarn.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 32: No sooner did we shovel ’em over to him than the poor looney drops ’em all again.
[Aus]Clipper (Hobart, Tas.) 25 Nov. 3/5: ‘But they can’t both be fools,’ objected Jim the Luney.
[UK]Sporting Times 23 June 2/2: He’s a spoony, and a loony, and a proper bookies’ mark.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 7 Feb. 8/2: I note that there are 900 ‘looneys’ in the Soustralian Lunatic Asylum. Seems to be mere dilly people in that part than any other State of the Commonwealth.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 18 May 2/6: I answered two ‘luney ’correspondents, to the effect that their lucubrations were quite impossible.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 6 Aug. 2nd sect. 9/1: They Say [...] That a rigid regulation to gaol these criminal loonies would save the hospital some trouble.
[UK]N. Douglas London Street Games 115: His father would ask whether some poor loony had been trying to box with a traction-engine going at full steam.
[NZ]‘Anzac’ On the Anzac Trail 104: The police behaved like looneys.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 156: Things go on same : day after day : squads of police marching out, back : trams in, out. Those two loonies mooching about.
[US]N. Putnam West Broadway 191: Well, then we come to a place called Los Lunas, which I guess is Spanish for The Looneys, or Nuts.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Final Count 934: Why ain’t you tucked up in the sheets, looney?
[UK]Rover 13 Jan. 32: This place is supposed to be a mental home, and those blokes are pretending to be loonies.
[UK]‘Henry Green’ Caught (2001) 58: She’s a loony I rather fancy.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 211: Blimey, girls, loonies!
[UK]J. Orton Diaries (1986) 21 Mar. 119: He behaves like an escapee from some upper-class hideaway for loonies.
[UK]D. Nobbs Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1976) 63: Who’s the loonie standing beside Granny Exeter?
[UK]A. Ayckbourn Ten Times Table II ii: He’s gone barmy! The stupid fascist loony!
[Oth]D. Marechera House of Hunger (2013) [ebook] Everyone at the school knew I had become a ‘loony’.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 186: I reared back in the chair, lolled my head on one side and leered at her like a loony.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Godson 142: ‘[T]here’s some loonies running around with guns. Sports shooters they’re called’.
[US]Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) 1 Feb. 45/4: This Sledge is an oddball, a looney, a goof.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 16: A cowboy film on the television would have him leaping about like a loony.
[UK]K. Sampson Awaydays 6: He’s a loony. Elvis, but that’s all part of his appeal.
[US]T. Piccirilli Fever Kill 119: Nobody even came around to make sure the loonies were tucked into bed.
[UK]K. Richards Life 26: The asylums drew a belt around the area, as if someone had decided, ‘Right. This is where we’re going to put the loonies’.
[US]D.R. Pollock Devil All the Time 34: Roy walked out of the bedroom convinced that he could raise the dead. ‘Shit, you’re just a loony,’ Theodore said.
[US]C. Hiaasen Squeeze Me 124: Oh Christ [...] Another escapee from Loonyville.
[Aus]P. Papathanasiou Stoning 51: ‘Bloody loonies’.
[UK]J. Meades Empty Wigs (t/s) 191: They’re not called loonies for nothing.

In compounds

loony bin (n.)

1. a psychiatric institution.

Wodehouse Mike & Psmith 125: Nothing that happens in this loony bin,” said Psmith, “has power to surprise me now .
[UK]Wodehouse My Man Jeeves 195: If you’re absolutely off your rocker, but don’t find it convenient to be scooped into a luny-bin, you simply explain ... it was just your Artistic Temperament.
[UK]Wodehouse Leave it to Psmith (1993) 500: He offered me the choice, in fact, between a complete rest and the loony-bin.
[UK]P. Allingham Cheapjack 40: The whole bunch of ’em was a lot of barmies from some looney bin.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 253: What she was waiting for she didn’t know [...] The loony bin or a miracle, she didn’t know which.
[UK]Willans & Searle Complete Molesworth (1985) 210: His career read as a case-book for a loony-bin.
[UK]A. Burgess Doctor Is Sick (1972) 79: People don’t escape from here [i.e. a hospital]. This is not a loony-bin.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 22 May in Proud Highway (1997) 383: Either somewhere with a lock on the door, or the loony bin.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Yarns of Billy Borker 88: The psychiatrist decided he’d have to go to the Looney bin.
[US]Rolling Stone 22 Sept. 6: Young’s article [...] has finally shown that escapee from a loony bin for what he really is: a first-rate jerk.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 251: In those days the ward was a real loony bin where everything could and did happen.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 62: After Fat Dog was safely locked up in the pen or the loony bin.
[UK](con. 1918) P. Barker Eye in the Door 3: He shook his head sadly. ‘Five months in a loony bin last year.’.
[UK]T. Fontana and D. Sarjeant ‘Animal Farm’ Oz ser. 2 ep. 7 [TV script] Sister, don’t send me to that loony-bin [...] I will stop taking drugs.
[UK]D. Mitchell Black Swan Green 96: You [...] should be in Little Malvern Loonybin.
[UK]K. Richards Life 26: Go past the loony bin, not the big one, the small one.
[UK]D. O’Donnell Locked Ward (2013) 313: She’s fuckin’ mad, in’t she? She’s in a loony bin.
[US]T. Pluck ‘Moody Joe Shaw’ in Life During Wartime (2018) 253: ‘They want to take my house and stick me in a loony bin’.
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 194: The loony bin was this meese concrete box.

2. in ext./fig. use, a chaotic place, a ‘madhouse’.

[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 25: I grabbed La Donna away and tried to find a neutral corner in that loony bin.
[UK]K. Lette Mad Cows 67: What’s all the farkin’ noise in ’ere. It’s a farkin’ loony bin innit?
loony-boob (n.)

(Aus.) a psychiatric institution.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 5 May 4/7: Policemen duly sing lusty choruses, perform pantomimic evolutions [...] Johns so acting would be eligible for the loony-boob.
loony doctor (n.)

a psychoanalyst, a psychiatrist.

[UK]Wodehouse Carry on, Jeeves 130: Old Sir Roderick, who’s a loony-doctor and nothing but a loony-doctor, however much you may call him a nerve specialist.
[UK]Wodehouse Mating Season 221: The zealous loony doctor would [...] have been on the telephone summoning horny-handed assistants to rally round.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 11: Sir Roderick Glossop, the eminent loony doctor.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 3: This very formidable loony-doctor.
[Ire]H. Leonard Time Was (1981) Act I: Your the looney doctor for the Dail.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 240: loony doctor, who is not a crazy doctor but one who treats the mentally afflicted.
loony factory (n.)

(US) a psychiatric institution.

[US]C. Connors Bowery Life [ebook] I takes a slow walk down de lane, w’ich wuz like a looney factory wid dat mob pushin’ t’ru.
loony farm (n.)

(US) a psychiatric institution; also in fig. use.

Avalanche 4-8 29/1: Anyway he went crazy and tried to knife Peter Sellers and they took him off to a loony farm.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 19: Hey, buddy, you sure this isn’t the loony farm?
G.D. Pattinson Guide to Professional Architecture 284: You can drive yourself to the loony farm trying to determine why the tower is crooked.
F. Michaels To Have and To Hold 290: Without her and Donald, our kids would have been put in foster homes and I would have been carted off to the loony farm.
Leninger & Whalin Lessons from the Pit 75: This place is a loony farm. Look at all those guys trying to buy those spreads over there.
[US]T. Fontana ‘Orpheus Descending’ Oz ser. 4 ep. 14 [TV script] There’s a very good chance that Cyril’s going to end up in a loony farm.
[US]N. McCall Them (2008) 78: They use to pay twenny dollars a head to turn in crazies to the loony farm.
loony house (n.)

(US) a psychiatric institution.

[US]Pacific Reporter 165 1152/1: Affidavit Tom [...] clearly indicates that he should be sent to the bug house, the crazy house, the foolish house, the bat house, the looney house, the mad house, the nutty house.
[UK]E. Waugh Vile Bodies 35: His wife’s locked up in a looney house.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 22 July. [synd. col.] He turned out to be an escaped wacko from the Islip looney house.
[UK]C. Harris Three-Ha’Pence to the Angel 181: And ask ’em what loony ’ouse they escaped from.
[US]B. Hecht Gaily, Gaily 151: Take Bunny along and see what’s going on in that loony house.
loony pen (n.)

(US) a psychiatric institution.

[US]W.J. Caunitz One Police Plaza 201: Your complainant sounds like an escape from a fucking loony pen.

In phrases