have bats in one's belfry

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Alternative formsEdit


1899,[1] from tendency of bats to fly around erratically, with “belfry” indicating “head, mind”.


have bats in one's belfry (third-person singular simple present has bats in one's belfry, present participle having bats in one's belfry, simple past and past participle had bats in one's belfry)

  1. (idiomatic, intransitive) To be crazy or eccentric.
    Anyone declaring himself Emperor of San Francisco probably had bats in his belfry.
    • 1900, Mary Etta Stickney, Brown of Lost River, page 254:
      You would certainly take the prize for bats in the belfry!--flying off on a wild-goose chase across a country where even the geese need a compass to keep to the course.
    • 1930, Sax Rohmer, The Day the World Ended, published 1969, page xv. 136:
      "That's sane," he replied mechanically. "I figured all along there were no bats in your belfry."


Derived termsEdit



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “batty”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.