[hey-wahyuh r]


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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for haywire

Contemporary Examples of haywire

Historical Examples of haywire

  • "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

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 for haywire

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

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

Idioms and Phrases with haywire


see go haywire.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.