- in a disorganized or unplanned manner; sloppily.
- whether one wishes to or not; willingly or unwillingly: He'll have to do it willy-nilly.
- shilly-shallying; vacillating.
- disorganized, unplanned; sloppy: willy-nilly work.
Origin of willy-nilly
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for willy-nilly
"Sir laggard, I knew that willy-nilly you would follow me," she cried.
Cynthia may fret and fume and stamp, but willy-nilly I shall carry her away.
You are the three volume man with the happy ending tacked on willy-nilly.Melomaniacs
This was actually done, and our friend was present willy-nilly.A Labrador Doctor
Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
At Jamestown, willy-nilly, the old Governor was forced to promise reforms.Pioneers of the Old South
- whether desired or not
- occurring or taking place whether desired or not
- occurring haphazardly
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
Word Origin and History for willy-nilly
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper