English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is a word which describes when a person loses it, when they reach their limit or pass the tipping point? I'm trying to use it to describe a person's transition from sane to insane. For example,

Dick Prosser's (transition to insanity) was accompanied by a ...

share|improve this question
Are you "going nuts" for a border-line answer? ;-D (Great question, +1) – Randolf Richardson Nov 6 '11 at 1:12
I would definitely use that in conversation (+1), but unfortunately this is for a formal paper. Slang is a no-no. (lol) – XenElement Nov 6 '11 at 1:16
up vote 10 down vote accepted

You might use breakdown or crack-up.

share|improve this answer
Breakdown sounds right to me. It stands in for mental breakdown. Maybe crack-up is okay for some (Americans?), but it sounds a bit a bit "flip" to me. – FumbleFingers Nov 5 '11 at 23:04
@FumbleFingers (+1): I agree -- "breakdown" seems serious while "crack-up" seems more casual and possibly comedic. – Randolf Richardson Nov 6 '11 at 9:33

How about derangement / derailment?

Dick Prosser's derailment was accompanied by...

share|improve this answer

How about

Dick Prosser's descent into insanity was accompanied by...

share|improve this answer

One could use the gerund of to increase or a similar verb that takes insanity as its object.

Dick Prosser's increasing insanity was accompanied by...

share|improve this answer
I'm trying to represent the actual moment when he becomes insane, not the journey towards insanity. – XenElement Nov 6 '11 at 20:54

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.