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Mad Lad, also spelled Madlad, is a slang term that is used to describe someone doing something that is crazy and unexpected, but can also be used in a sarcastic manner for someone doing something that is not hard to do or crazy — sharing similarities to the lol so random meme. The term is commonly used in conjunction with the catchphrase "absolute mad lad."
Through a combination of online and IRL culture clashing, popularized in Britain through "Laddism" in the late 1990s, "lad" became internet slang during the mid to late 2000s alongside memes like Wew Lad, Berries and Cream (Little Lad) and the media company LAD Bible being early examples of the word in the meme space. Lad culture is similarly compared to college party culture but on a micro-scale. Stereotypical lad behavior involves drinking, partying and ultimately having a hedonistic good time. This is also described in the Urban Dictionary definition for Madlad that was made on April 4th, 2006 (shown below), serving as one of the earliest examples of the term being formalized online.
The same Facebook post that spawned the Absolute Madman expression (seen below) also helped to popularize this slang term around 2014. By combining the outwardly silly nature of The Absolute Madman with the growing culture of young British lads, mad lads grew online throughout the early 2010s to become a well-known slang term.
Following the first round of Absolute Madman memes, the subreddit /r/Madlads was officially created on October 19th, 2015. The original owner, Redditor ANUS_CAPTAIN, made the subreddit in 2015 but deleted his account sometime after. The subreddit is where much mad lad-related content comes from. As of November 16th, 2021, it has over 1.7 million subscribers. Most of the memes found on the subreddit are about actions taken by someone, who is then called a "madlad" for what they did, as seen in the post by KunsPineapple on September 1st, 2020, that received 600 upvotes in six months (shown below).
On February 20th, 2017, another definition was added to Urban Dictionary for "MadLad" that brought it closer to its current usage online, with over 2,200 upvotes in four years (shown below).
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