helter-skelter

[ hel-ter-skel-ter ]
/ ˈhɛl tərˈskɛl tər /

adverb

in headlong and disorderly haste: The children ran helter-skelter all over the house.
in a haphazard manner; without regard for order: Clothes were scattered helter-skelter about the room.

adjective

carelessly hurried; confused: They ran in a mad, helter-skelter fashion for the exits.
disorderly; haphazard: Books and papers were scattered on the desk in a helter-skelter manner.

noun

tumultuous disorder; confusion.

Origin of helter-skelter

1585–95; rhyming compound, perhaps based on *skelt, Middle English skelten to hasten (< ?); reduplication with initial h parallel to hubble-bubble, higgledy-piggledy, etc.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for helter-skelter

British Dictionary definitions for helter-skelter

helter-skelter

/ (ˈhɛltəˈskɛltə) /

adjective

haphazard or carelessly hurried

adverb

in a helter-skelter manner

noun

British a high spiral slide, as at a fairground
disorder or haste

Word Origin for helter-skelter

C16: probably of imitative origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for helter-skelter

helter-skelter


adv.

also helter skelter, 1590s, perhaps from skelte "to hasten, scatter hurriedly," with the first element there merely for the sake of rhyme. As an adjective from 1785.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper