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While looking into an answer for "Sick and tied" and "sick and tired", I stumbled across the idiom fit to be tied which according to thefreedictionary means angry and agitated. (As if needing to be restrained.)

A second search turned up that this refers to the practice of bounding uncontrollable, dangerous people into strait-jackets. How did we make the leap from crazy and uncontrollable to the general usage today of ticked off? Or is my understanding of general usage today incorrect? Is it common for these phrases to become so watered-down over time?

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Do you decorate for any holiday? I do, because my mom always did. I now years later decorate my little bar like a crazy person. Takes time, money, time, money, and mostly pride. And it feels good when my customers and friends tell me how nice it looks. But my bartender took everything down. Lights, leaves, everything. In the bathroom, hall, everywhere. And left a pile of my hard work. Now I can't control my thoughts, actions, feelings. Thanksgiving is a week and a half away. I called my mom. She said, "Tammy", like grandma said many times, "you are fit to be tied!" I said, "Mom. You just can't –  user57900 Nov 21 '13 at 7:18

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You are correct about the current usage. You would not use it to refer to a mental patient in the technical sense, but apparently it was at one time acceptable to do so. I would have thought that the idiom started life in the "angry and agitated" sense, but there is one old (1804) citation that I found via an ngrams search which uses the second sense, apparently without irony. I do not know when the newer sense of the phrase took over, but it was certainly in use about 100 years after that first example.

"Mad" itself seems to have followed the same path. The earliest citations in the OED refer to the "mental disease" aspect, and the "uncontrollable rage" meaning comes later, followed by the colloquial sense of "angry".

It seems to be a common pattern, that a technical phrase for a mental condition gets borrowed for colloquial use and then falls out of usage in its original sense to avoid offense. "Retarded" is another example: the use of the word as an insult and "synonym" for "unintelligent" put it onto the Euphemism treadmill.

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I first heard this phrase some time in the late 1950s from my grandmother, who was born in 1896. I did not understand it and asked her what it meant. She said about the fellow in question "he was so upset about being wrong, he was acting like he was out of his mind and needed to be tied up for a while".

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