Dictionary.com

willy-nilly

[ wil-ee-nil-ee ]
/ ˈwɪl iˈnɪl i /
Save This Word!

adverb
in a disorganized or unplanned manner; sloppily.
whether one wishes to or not; willingly or unwillingly: He'll have to do it willy-nilly.
adjective
shilly-shallying; vacillating.
disorganized, unplanned; sloppy: willy-nilly work.
QUIZ
ARE YOU A TRUE BLUE CHAMPION OF THESE "BLUE" SYNONYMS?
We could talk until we're blue in the face about this quiz on words for the color "blue," but we think you should take the quiz and find out if you're a whiz at these colorful terms.
Question 1 of 8
Which of the following words describes “sky blue”?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of willy-nilly

1600–10; from the phrase will ye, nill ye.See will1, nill
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

How to use willy-nilly in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for willy-nilly

willy-nilly
/ (ˌwɪlɪˈnɪlɪ) /

adverb
whether desired or not
haphazardly
adjective
occurring or taking place whether desired or not
occurring haphazardly

Word Origin for willy-nilly

Old English wile hē, nyle hē, literally: will he or will he not; nyle, from ne not + willan to will 1
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
FEEDBACK