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March 27, 2020

Word of the Day: Haywire

1 CQ

Word of the Day : June 17, 2017

haywire \HAY-wyre\ adverb or adjective


1 : being out of order or having gone wrong

2 : emotionally or mentally upset or out of control : crazy


The company's e-mailing system went haywire and sent out multiple copies of the advertisement to its subscribers.

"While our immune system generally keeps us safe and wards off illness, sometimes it can go a little haywire. Pollen and other usually harmless particles can cause your immune system to overreact…." — Andrei Javier, The Tennessean, 9 Apr. 2017

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.

Aired June 17, 2017

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