hay·​wire | \ ˈhā-ˌwī(-ə)r How to pronounce haywire (audio) \

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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Synonyms & Antonyms for haywire


balmy, barmy [chiefly British], bats, batty, bedlam, bonkers, brainsick, bughouse [slang], certifiable, crackbrained, cracked, crackers, crackpot, cranky [dialect], crazed, crazy, cuckoo, daffy, daft, demented, deranged, fruity [slang], gaga, insane, kooky (also kookie), loco [slang], loony (also looney), loony tunes (or looney tunes), lunatic, mad, maniacal (also maniac), mental, meshuga (or meshugge), moonstruck, non compos mentis, nuts, nutty, psycho, psychotic, scatty [chiefly British], screwy, unbalanced, unhinged, unsound, wacko (also whacko), wacky (also whacky), wud [chiefly Scottish]


balanced, compos mentis, sane, sound, uncrazy

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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

When the speediest planet goes retrograde, these areas of our lives have the tendency to go haywire. Erika W. Smith, refinery29.com, "How To Survive This Month's Mercury Retrograde," 5 July 2019 The human body goes haywire when hurled into space and away from the familiar environment of the Earth's surface. Anchorage Daily News, "What the Space Age taught us: Earth is the best of all possible worlds," 23 June 2019 Previous laws required someone to be there in case something went haywire. Dan Sweeney, sun-sentinel.com, "‘Have we gone completely mad?’ Readers react to driverless trucks on Florida roads.," 18 June 2019 Taylor Werner and Janeek Brown lift Arkansas to the women’s NCAA title on a night that goes haywire at the end. oregonlive.com, "All in all, a good season for the UO women; big names in action tonight at L&C: Oregon track & field rundown," 9 June 2019 Pass rusher is an obvious need for Seattle, especially if anything goes haywire in the contract talks with Frank Clark. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Why Mel Kiper Jr. thinks Jachai Polite is a good fit for the Seahawks," 19 Feb. 2019 Yet this debate has taken all that to a new level, and making what is left of the conventional political system go haywire in the process. Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, "The New Kind of Fury Unleashed by the Kavanaugh Fight," 27 Sep. 2018 Back during the total solar eclipse last August, Marie Claire reported that many women noticed their period cycles going haywire around the time of the eclipse. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "What to Know About Your Period During the Super Wolf Blood Moon," 15 Jan. 2019 Ironically, the gene therapies that were used before CRISPR had a higher risk of going haywire. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Legal vs. Illegal Gene Editing: Here's What's Banned, and Why," 4 Dec. 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

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

informal : not working properly


hay·​wire | \ ˈhā-ˌwīr How to pronounce haywire (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on haywire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with haywire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for haywire

Spanish Central: Translation of haywire

Nglish: Translation of haywire for Spanish Speakers

Comments on haywire

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