• synonyms


verb (used without object), nilled, nill·ing.
  1. to be unwilling: will he, nill he.
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verb (used with object), nilled, nill·ing.
  1. to refuse or reject.
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Origin of nill

before 900; Middle English nillen, Old English nyllan, contraction of phrase ne willan; see no1, will1, willy-nilly
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nill

Historical Examples of nill

  • "Nill ye, will ye," one-half of Scotland already give your songs to other authors.

    The Letters of Robert Burns

    Robert Burns

  • He was carried—will he, nill he—in triumph toward the inn of Mrs. MacAlpine.

    Red Cap Tales

    Samuel Rutherford Crockett

  • We are marching on, and will we, nill we, must conquer or perish.

  • People have to eat will they nill they, that they may not betray themselves.

  • As it nis good, I nill say—or sain, instead of it is not good—I will not say.

    Chaucer for Children

    Mrs. H. R. Haweis

Word Origin and History for nill


Old English nylle, nelle "to be unwilling," from ne "no" (see no) + will (v.). Often paired with will; the construction in nill he, will he, once common, attested from c.1300, surviving principally in willy-nilly, which, however, reverses the usual Middle English word order. Latin expressed a similar idea in nolens volens.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper