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make a hash of

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Also, make a mess of. Ruin or spoil something, as in They've made a hash of their financial affairs, or She thought he'd make a mess of the garden. The first term, first recorded in 1833, uses hash in the sense of “a jumble of mangled fragments”; the variant, using mess in the sense of “a muddle” or “a state of confusion,” was first recorded in 1862.

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

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