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


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.


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.


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

/ (ˈhɛltəˈskɛltə) /


haphazard or carelessly hurried


in a helter-skelter manner


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