Origin of higgledy-piggledy
Examples from the Web for higgledy-piggledy
She plumped into it higgledy-piggledy and curled up, an unsightly, humpful excrescence upon its suave surface.Wanted: A Husband|Samuel Hopkins Adams
I have heard, by roundabout channel, that Herschel says my book "is the law of higgledy-piggledy."The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume II (of II)|Charles Darwin
And here's a Noah's Ark, full of higgledy-piggledy animals—why, what are you doing here?The Admiral's Caravan|Charles E. Carryl
The man took the letter, which was written on Higgledy-Piggledy paper and in Josie's best handwriting.Mary Louise and Josie O'Gorman|Emma Speed Sampson
I haven't catalogued mine, I have just put them down "higgledy-piggledy," as we used to say when we were children.The Smiling Hill-Top|Julia M. Sloane
British Dictionary definitions for higgledy-piggledy
Word Origin and History for higgledy-piggledy
"confusedly, hurriedly," 1590s, a "vocal gesture" [OED] probably formed from pig and the animal's suggestions of mess and disorder. Reduplications in the h-/p- pattern are common (e.g. hanky-panky, hocus-pocus, hinch(y)-pinch(y), an obsolete children's game, attested from c.1600).
Edward Moor, "Suffolk Words and Phrases" (London, 1823), quotes a list of reduplications from Ray's "Collection of English Words" (1768), all said to "signify any confusion or mixture;" the list has higgledy-piggledy, hurly-burly, hodge-podge, mingle-mangle, arsy-versy, kim-kam, hub-bub, crawly-mauly, and hab-nab. "To which he might have added," Moor writes, crincum-crankum, crinkle-crankle, flim-flam, fiddle-faddle, gibble-gabble, harum-scarum, helter-skelter, hiccup-suickup, hocus-pocus, hotch-potch, hugger-mugger, hum-drum, hum-strum, hurry-scurry, jibber-jabber, prittle-prattle, shilly-shally, tittle-tattle, and topsy-turvy. Many of them seem to date to the 16th century.