harebrained » hairbrained

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “Can of Worms: Hairbrained scheme defeats robot army. By Kalli Anderson.” (link)
  • ‘Hairbrained scheme’. One old lady, who was one of the first pedestrians to use the new crossing in … It’s a hairbrained scheme and most dangerous.” (link)

The involvement of rabbits in this idiom seems to be non-obvious to a great many speakers; “hairbrained” gets ca. 10k raw Google web hits to ca. 50k for “harebrained” (1 April 2005). The much more frequent “hair” is giving the rarer “hare” a serious race for its money. The semantics seems to involve hair as inconsequential, fluffy, silly.

See also other “hare”/”hair”-related entries.

James Cochrane, Between You and I, labels this a spelling error. Perhaps it is for some people.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/04/02 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Chris Russell , 2005/12/06 at 4:56 am

    Are you sure that those who spell it “hairbrained” aren’t thinking of someone who’s hair grows in instead of out of thier head, thereby leaving them stupid? That’s what I was thinking when I used to spell it that way, and I’ve asked a few others who spell it that way what they were thinking and they agreed.

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