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Maddening vs. Madding — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Urooj Arif — Updated on May 8, 2024
"Maddening" refers to something causing extreme annoyance, while "madding" describes a frenzied or frantic crowd, often used in poetic contexts.
Maddening vs. Madding — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Maddening and Madding


Key Differences

"Maddening" is often used to describe situations, events, or behaviors that are extremely irritating or frustrating. This adjective conveys a sense of being driven to madness. On the other hand, "madding" is a less common term primarily found in literary or poetic contexts, suggesting a wild, frenzied state among groups of people.
The use of "maddening" can apply to a wide range of scenarios from a maddening noise that prevents concentration to a person's maddening indifference to rules. Whereas "madding" is typically confined to describing scenes or settings, like a "madding crowd," where there is chaos or lack of control.
"Maddening" evokes a personal response; it's about something that affects one's mental state deeply. In contrast, "madding" describes an external scene, particularly the collective behavior of a crowd.
In modern usage, "maddening" is more prevalent and understood across various contexts, from casual conversations to formal writings. "Madding," however, might require clarification or context as it is not widely recognized outside of certain literary references.
Although both terms share a root in "mad," their applications diverge significantly. "Maddening" focuses on the effect of driving one mad, while "madding" focuses on the state of being mad, particularly in a collective sense.

Comparison Chart


Causing extreme annoyance
Pertaining to a frenzied crowd

Usage Frequency

Rare, mostly literary

Contextual Usage

Broad (any irritating situation)
Specific (crowds, poetic scenes)

Emotional Connotation

Individual frustration
Collective frenzy


Maddening noise, maddening process
Madding crowd, madding throng

Compare with Definitions


Likely to drive someone to madness.
Her maddening indifference to the schedule frustrated everyone.


Used to describe intense collective activity.
She was lost in the madding chaos of the market.


Causing great annoyance or frustration.
The maddening delay at the airport was unbearable.


Belonging to a frenzied or chaotic crowd.
He wanted to escape the madding crowd and find some tranquility.


Provoking intense irritation.
He found the puzzle maddening and couldn't complete it.


Characterized by wild or disorderly behavior.
The festival was filled with a madding throng.


Aggravating beyond tolerance.
The maddening inconsistencies in the data were confusing.


Pertaining to a group in a frenzied state.
The madding roar of the stadium was exhilarating.


Extremely irritating.
The maddening hum of the old fan made it hard to focus.


Literary term for a tumultuous crowd.
The poet spoke of the madding crowd's ignoble strife.


To make angry; irritate.


In a state of frenzy; frenzied
"far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife" (Thomas Gray).


To cause (someone) to go mad; drive to madness.


(archaic) Affected with madness; raging; furious.


To become infuriated.


Present participle of mad


Causing frustration or anger.


Affected with madness; raging; furious.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife.
The madding wheelsOf brazen chariots raged.


Leading to insanity.


Present participle of madden


Extremely annoying or displeasing.


Extremely annoying or displeasing;
His cavelier curtness of manner was exasperating
I've had an exasperating day
Her infuriating indifference
The ceaseless tumult of the jukebox was maddening

Common Curiosities

Can "madding" be used in everyday conversation?

While it can be used, it might not be readily understood without context due to its literary nature.

What is an example of a maddening situation?

A computer crashing repeatedly can be described as maddening.

How is "maddening" commonly used?

It's used to describe irritating situations, noises, or behaviors.

Is "maddening" related to actual madness?

It figuratively suggests something is so irritating it could drive one mad.

Are "maddening" and "madding" interchangeable?

No, they are used in different contexts and convey different meanings.

What does "maddening" mean?

It refers to something that causes great annoyance or frustration.

What does "madding" mean?

"Madding" refers to a frenzied or chaotic state, especially among crowds.

Where is "madding" typically found?

It's mostly used in literary contexts, like poetry.

Does "madding" imply violence?

Not directly; it more broadly refers to wild, frenzied behavior.

What is an example of a madding scene?

"The poet spoke of the madding crowd's ignoble strife."

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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