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[hey-wahyuh r] /ˈheɪˌwaɪər/
wire used to bind bales of hay.
adjective, Informal.
in disorder:
The town is haywire because of the bus strike.
out of control; disordered; crazy:
The car went haywire. He's been haywire since he got the bad news.
Origin of haywire
First recorded in 1900-05; hay + wire Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for haywire
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Our haywire battery connections are gone," shouted McCready.

    The Solar Magnet Sterner St. Paul Meek
  • It seems their equipment has been haywire for two days, they haven't been able to get through.

    Moon Glow G. L. Vandenburg
  • However, they might just as well have tried to pick off a haywire comet rushing down at them.

    Dave Dawson on Guadalcanal Robert Sydney Bowen
  • haywire instruments jerked the machine back down and then side to side, then into a tree trunk, blindly.

    The Happy Man Gerald Wilburn Page
  • "Right on course, unless those instruments are haywire, which of course they're not," he murmured.

    Dave Dawson at Casablanca Robert Sydney Bowen
  • Horses with patched civilian harness gave the transport the appearance of a "haywire outfit."

    The Story of the "9th King's" in France Enos Herbert Glynne Roberts
British Dictionary definitions for haywire


adjective (postpositive) (informal)
(of things) not functioning properly; disorganized (esp in the phrase go haywire)
(of people) erratic or crazy
Word Origin
C20: alluding to the disorderly tangle of wire removed from bales of hay
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for haywire

"soft wire for binding bales of hay," by 1891, from hay + wire (n.). Adjective meaning "poorly equipped, makeshift" is 1905, American English, from the sense of something only held together with haywire, particularly said to be from use of the stuff in New England lumber camps for jury-rigging and makeshift purposes, so that hay wire outfit became the "contemptuous term for loggers with poor logging equipment" [Bryant, "Logging," 1913]. Its springy, uncontrollable quality led to the sense in go haywire (by 1915).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for haywire



  1. Functioning erratically; out of order; on the blink: This meter's haywire
  2. Makeshift; precariously operative: What sort of haywire gadget are you using for a pump?
  3. Crazy; confused; cockeyed: He never looked inside an almanac, and was sure that anyone who did was haywire (1905+ Loggers)

Related Terms

go haywire

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with haywire


see: go haywire
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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