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See more synonyms for willies on Thesaurus.com
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


  1. a male given name, form of William.
  2. a female given name.
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or wil·ley

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

Related Words for willies

anxiety, tension, stress, impatience, agitation, sensitivity, disquiet, jitters, uneasiness, anger, turbulence, worry, nervousness, restlessness, apprehension, foreboding, uncertainty, mistrust, misgiving, angst

Examples from the Web for willies

Historical Examples of willies

  • 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


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 for willies

C20: of unknown origin


  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


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


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.