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willies

[wil-eez]
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noun (used with a plural verb) Informal.
  1. nervousness or fright; jitters; creeps (usually preceded by the): That horror movie gave me the willies.
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Origin of willies

1895–1900, Americanism; origin obscure; cf. -s3

Willie

[wil-ee]
noun
  1. a male given name, form of William.
  2. a female given name.
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willy

or wil·ley

[wil-ee]
noun, plural wil·lies.
  1. willow(def 4).
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verb (used with object), wil·lied, wil·ly·ing.
  1. to willow (cotton).
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Origin of willy

1825–35; special use of dial. willy, Old English wilige basket (orig. one made of willow twigs); akin to willow
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for willies

Historical Examples

  • The "Willies" themselves had had the best of care and attention.

    Life in a Tank

    Richard Haigh

  • If I'm in for having a trained nurse do it for me, it'll give me the Willies.

    T. Tembarom

    Frances Hodgson Burnett

  • They give me the jimjams, the willies, and I want to get away.

    A Yankee in the Far East

    George Hoyt Allen

  • It was not Willies knock, she knew, but it might be news of Willie.

  • He is quite good at the Willies,24 and so I think we have got a fair chance.

    Sixty Squadron R.A.F.

    Group-Captain A. J. L. Scott


British Dictionary definitions for willies

willies

pl n
  1. the willies slang nervousness, jitters, or fright (esp in the phrase give (or get) the willies)
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Word Origin

C20: of unknown origin

willy

noun
  1. British informal a childish or jocular term for penis
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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 willies

n.

1896, "spell of nervousness," perhaps from the woollies, a dialectal term for "nervous uneasiness," probably in reference to the itchiness of wool garments.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with willies

willies

see under the creeps.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.