adverb or adjective
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

Synonyms & Antonyms for haywire



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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 The reason the corals risk starvation is that the algae’s biology starts to go haywire at those temperatures. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, 14 May 2020 The beat, though played on a physical drum kit, feels like one of later Kraftwerk’s methodical midtempo pulses — until things go psychedelically haywire. Jon Pareles, New York Times, 7 May 2020 Companies and consumers flooded U.S. banks with a record $1 trillion of deposits in the first quarter, when markets went haywire and America went dark to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. David Benoit, WSJ, 23 Apr. 2020 As the voyagers’ ship gets closer to the sun, everything on board goes more and more haywire, and Boyle—who can depict the onset of madness better than almost anyone working—dials up the chaos. David Sims, The Atlantic, 10 Apr. 2020 The tornado hit, there were a couple days of cleanup and then everything went haywire. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, 1 Apr. 2020 If a system for placing ads goes haywire, that’s not good, but the consequences are a lot less severe than a system dispatching $1 million worth of products to a store that’s now shuttered due to social distancing measures. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 24 Mar. 2020 House chips, another option, were admirably thin, but something went haywire in the frying — the chips that night weren't crisp. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 Feb. 2020 If there’s power, the potential for things to go haywire is much higher, say storage facility owners. oregonlive, 14 Feb. 2020 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for haywire

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The first known use of haywire was in 1905

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Cite this Entry

“Haywire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/haywire. Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for haywire


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on haywire

Nglish: Translation of haywire for Spanish Speakers


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