shilly-shally

[shil-ee-shal-ee]
See more synonyms for shilly-shally on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object), shil·ly-shal·lied, shil·ly-shal·ly·ing.
  1. to show indecision or hesitation; be irresolute; vacillate.
  2. to waste time; dawdle.
noun, plural shil·ly-shal·lies.
  1. irresolution; indecision; vacillation: It was sheer shilly-shally on his part.
adjective
  1. irresolute; undecided; vacillating.

Origin of shilly-shally

1690–1700; orig. repeated question, shall I? shall I? later altered on the model of its synonym dilly-dally
Related formsshil·ly-shal·li·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for shilly-shally

dally, dawdle, dodge, fluctuate, halt, hesitate, stall, trifle, vacillate, waver

Examples from the Web for shilly-shally

Historical Examples of shilly-shally


Word Origin and History for shilly-shally
v.

"to vacillate," 1782, from adverbial expression to stand shilly-shally (1703), earlier shill I, shall I (1700), a fanciful reduplication of shall I? (cf. wishy-washy, dilly-dally, etc.). From 1734 as an adjective, by 1755 as a noun. Related: Shilly-shallying (1816).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper