hay·wire | \ˈhā-ˌwī(-ə)r \

Definition of haywire 

1 : being out of order or having gone wrong the radio went haywire

2 : emotionally or mentally upset or out of control : crazy is going haywire with grief

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Did You Know?

The wire used in baling hay - haywire - is often used in makeshift repairs. This hurried and temporary use of haywire gave rise to the adjective haywire. When the adjective was first used in the early 20th century, it was primarily found in the phrase haywire outfit, which originally denoted a poorly equipped group of loggers and then anything that was flimsy or patched together. This led to a "hastily patched-up" sense, which, in turn, gave us the more commonly used meaning, "being out of order or having gone wrong." The "crazy" sense of haywire may have been suggested by the difficulty of handling the springy wire, its tendency to get tangled around legs, or the disorderly appearance of the temporary repair jobs for which it was used.

Examples of haywire in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Birth control taken continuously, meaning no sugar pills during your period, can really make your hormones haywire. Sarah Hosseini, Good Housekeeping, "Just Because You Can't See My Endometriosis Doesn't Mean It's Not There," 12 Mar. 2016 Three years have also passed in the film, and the damage wrought in that movie is still being cleaned up — $800 million has been paid out to patrons unlucky enough to have been in attendance when things went haywire. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' gets off the island," 20 June 2018 Temperatures in Davie reached 92 degrees with 54 percent humidity in the 12 p.m. hour — or exactly when Tannehill said things went haywire. Adam H. Beasley, miamiherald, "A supposed strength for the Dolphins worked against them in a ragged practice Tuesday," 5 June 2018 When Salinger first proposed the arrangement, Claude turned him down, fearing the many things that could go wrong if the president’s visit to a prostitute went haywire. Larry Getlen, Fox News, "Inside JFK's door-to-door search for a French call girl -- and why she had to look like Jackie," 24 May 2018 When the stem cells go haywire, the result is leukemia. Richard G. "bugs" Stevens, Washington Post, "Bright lights near bedtime can cause sleep problems in children," 19 May 2018 Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless seventh to temporarily protect the 5-0 lead, but then things went haywire for the home team. David Waldstein, New York Times, "Yankees Win a Wild One Against the Indians After a Bullpen Meltdown," 4 May 2018 To Jama Software, that sign of early success may actually be a symptom of things going haywire. Mike Rogoway, OregonLive.com, "Jama Software imagines 'predictive' technology for product designers," 24 Apr. 2018 Chaotic systems are everywhere in nature, going haywire more or less quickly. Natalie Wolchover, WIRED, "Machine Learning’s ‘Amazing’ Ability to Predict Chaos," 21 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'haywire.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of haywire

1905, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for haywire

from the use of baling wire for makeshift repairs

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Statistics for haywire

Last Updated

20 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for haywire

The first known use of haywire was in 1905

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More Definitions for haywire



English Language Learners Definition of haywire

: not working properly


hay·wire | \ˈhā-ˌwīr \

Kids Definition of haywire

1 : working badly or in an odd way The TV went haywire.

2 : emotionally or mentally out of control : crazy After losing, she went haywire.

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