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. 2019

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Word Origin and History for shilly-shally

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