- to show indecision or hesitation; be irresolute; vacillate.
- to waste time; dawdle.
- irresolution; indecision; vacillation: It was sheer shilly-shally on his part.
- irresolute; undecided; vacillating.
Origin of shilly-shally
1690–1700; orig. repeated question, shall I? shall I? later altered on the model of its synonym dilly-dally
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for shilly-shally
There is no use in this shilly-shally way of yours, St. Clare!Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Shilly-shally, to trifle or fritter away time; to be irresolute.The Slang Dictionary
John Camden Hotten
Drapery it was, and quickly; for Mrs. Munsey was not wont to shilly-shally.Tales of Mean Streets
Strange that people will have so much faith in shilly-shally!Charles Sumner; his complete works, volume 7 (of 20)
"I have little experience of shilly-shally methods," replied his visitor.The Open Question
Word Origin and History for shilly-shally
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper