higgledy-piggledy

[ hig-uh l-dee-pig-uh l-dee ]
/ ˈhɪg əl diˈpɪg əl di /

adverb

in a jumbled, confused, or disorderly manner; helter-skelter.

adjective

confused; jumbled.

Nearby words

  1. higashiosaka,
  2. higashiyama,
  3. higgins,
  4. higginson,
  5. higgle,
  6. higgler,
  7. higgs boson,
  8. high,
  9. high altar,
  10. high and dry

Origin of higgledy-piggledy

First recorded in 1590–1600; rhyming compound of uncertain origin

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for higgledy-piggledy


British Dictionary definitions for higgledy-piggledy

higgledy-piggledy

/ (ˈhɪɡəldɪˈpɪɡəldɪ) informal /

adjective, adverb

in a jumble

noun

a muddle
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 higgledy-piggledy

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper