Eggcorn Forum

Discussions about eggcorns and related topics

You are not logged in.


Registrations are currently closed because of a technical problem. Please send email to if you wish to register.

The forum administrator reserves the right to request users to plausibly demonstrate that they are real people with an interest in the topic of eggcorns. Otherwise they may be removed with no further justification. Likewise, accounts that have not been used for posting may be removed.

Thanks for your understanding.

Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2008-08-02 18:05:08

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2666


“Haywall” is probably just an idiom blend, but I couldn’t resist posting it. This blidiom is the greatest thing since chopped liver. I chuckle whenever I think of it.

“AWOL,” pronounced EHY-wall, is an acronym for “Absent Without Leave.” It has a narrow technical meaning in military contexts, but it is widely used in common speech for someone who is unexpectedly missing. It sometimes occurs in the idiom “to go AWOL.” “Haywire,” probably deriving from the old habit of use baling wire to do makeshift repairs on machinery, refers to something that is confused, erratic or broken. “Haywire” mostly occurs as a component of the idiom “to go haywire.”

Over the last century “haywire” has gone from familiar to unfamiliar. On the Western U.S. ranch where I was raised we were still using wire to bale hay in the 1950s. But wire baling was already in decline in that decade, and by the 1980s twine had largely supplanted wire (Baling twine was always an important alternative to wire, but supply problems with sisal kept wire in the mix until cheap polypropylene twine arrived on the market. Today, of course, greenchopping hay into a silage wagon is probably more popular than baling.). At the same time that haywire was on the way out, the word “AWOL” was on the way in. Originally a piece of American miliary slang, “AWOL” has ridden the coattails of the U.S. military to a global presence.

The crossing fortunes of these two words has led to some confusion in modern English. People no longer know what the “haywire” in the idiom “go haywire” is. But “haywire” sounds a bit like the its semantic cousin “AWOL,” especially in non-rhotic versions of English, and both are used in idioms that include the word “go.” On the net we find almost a hundred unique examples of “haywall,” a blend of these two words. Examples:

Game forum posting: “bq. : “But perhaps only test it on a test server first of all as otherwise it would go haywall” (

Discussion of device drivers: “All my colours(im english) have gone haywall and my mouse was disabled! HELP!!!” (

ipod forum: “my iPod starting going haywall and kept crashing when i tried to play songs.” ( … 69920.html)

Blog fiction: “So the concert began, and as soon as Jesse stepped out on that stage everything went haywall.” ( … 829part-36)

I suppose “haywall” could be an eggcorn. A wall made out of hay would be something that would be flimsy and easy to penetrate, so “going haywall” might be applicable to situations where things were breaking down. It’s such an obvious blend, however, and the idea of a “hay wall” is so unfamiliar, that it is hard to make a case for it being an eggcorn. If the idioms had not existed, I doubt that “haywall” would ever have been coined.

Last edited by kem (2008-08-02 19:53:59)

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2008-08-02 21:03:10

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2244

Re: haywall

A great one! Clearly a blend, as you see rightly, and, probably, you’re also right that eggcorning has had little to do with it.


Mom was going hogwire that day.

and before you go hogwire with “IM NO LONGER A BOFA CUSTOMER!!!!...ask around,ok

I realize pornography offends some people, and I can understand that, but you don’t just go hogwire and start tossing everybody into the clink just because

The media went hogwire and the incident ended his campaign.

I meant to ask permission before I went hogwire crazy and read your diary, but dude – I couldn’t take the time to get it

Hog-wild + haywire, maybe “being wired” also active in the mix in some cases.

Then, there’s going hair-wire, where I think there may be some eggcorning. I’ll report it over on the other list.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-08-02 21:14:26)

*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)



#3 2008-08-04 11:42:00

Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: haywall

I wonder if rhoticity plays into the haywall << haywire examples. The vowels are fairly close, as are the liquids L and R. You would think most English speakers could tell them apart, but second-language speakers, or even native English speakers who have only heard the originals in rapid casual speech might make the error, mightn’t they?

Rhoticity also comes into play in hogwire << hog wild, this time added rather than lost. And to close the circle (triangle?) hairwire << haywire has spreading rhoticity. … 7281#p7281

Both may also have similar genesis, in that haywire and hog wild each refers to images that would make more sense to 20th century farm dwellers than to 21st century city dwellers.



Board footer

Powered by PunBB
PunBB is © 2002–2005 Rickard Andersson
Individual posters retain the copyright to their posts.

RSS feeds: active topicsall new posts