What was said? It’s just another one of his harebrained schemes.
Did someone really say that? Yes, when referring to a colleague’s bright idea that seemed to lead no where.
What does it mean? It basically refers to an idea that seems foolish or doesn’t make much sense.
Origin: The phrase dates back to the 1500s when it was also spelled “hairbrained” at times. The word “hare” and “hair” were used interchangeably to refer to the same thing – the animal “hare.”
Most research suggests that the phrase originates from actual hares who are quite jumpy/skittish and not necessarily the smartest animals around. To call someone “harebrained” would be to say they had a brain not much larger than that of an actual hare, thus not coming up with a smart, well thought out plan. Either spelling is used to describe a plan/scheme or at times an individual who is flighty or even reckless. Scatterbrained is a common synonym for a “harebrained” individual.
For those who believe the true spelling is “hairbrained” there is a notion that the phrase comes from one’s head being full of hair, or having a hair-sized brain, regardless it has the same meaning when used today!