phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Making a hames

Posted by Shae on February 25, 2004

In Reply to: Making a hames posted by Henry on February 25, 2004

: : Anytime we really messed up, we would hear, "You really made a hames out of that!" I have searched, but cannot find the origin. What is "hames?"

: Here's one meaning; hames are two parts of a dray horse's harness. The word usually occurs in the plural. Some pubs have the name "Hamemakers Arms", others have a similar name "Homemakers Arms". The names may be derived from both hames and home, or may both be derived from one of these. Why it should be used for a mess or a hash, I don't know.

Yep. Dolan's Dictionary of Hiberno-English has, in part:

HAMES: the wooden or metal pieces forming the collar on a horse, to which the traces are attached; fig. a mess, in the phrase 'to make a hames of,' to make a mess of (possibly because it is difficult to put the hames on a horse the right way up.)< ME 'hames'