phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by James Briggs on January 25, 2004

In Reply to: Haywire posted by rahul on January 25, 2004

: : I was pointed to this website, so I thought I'd use it to discover the meaning of a phrase that seems to crop up more and more in my elderly life: 'Things are going haywire'.
: : No explanation is forthcoming though, so anyone any idea? I'm pretty sure that farmers of old didn't use wire in the course of their haymaking, and why would it be a bad thing anyway?

: : Cheers, Dave Jacobs

To go haywire is to go out of control; to behave wildly. I have found several suggested origins for this phrase, all from the USA. The first says that wire, properly only intended to bale up hay,(ie haywire) was used, instead, by many farmers to make their boundary fences. The wire rusted quickly with the result that the properties were unkempt and had an appearance of being out of control. A second suggestion says that the wire, when correctly used to bundle up hay, would writhe and wriggle when cut to eventually release the hay. The third says the notion comes from the disorder and chaos present in a farm yard when the used lengths of wire were left dumped in a corner.