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Word of the Day
Monday, March 11, 2013

Definitions for shilly-shally

  1. to show indecision or hesitation; be irresolute; vacillate.
  2. to waste time; dawdle.
  3. irresolution; indecision; vacillation: It was sheer shilly-shally on his part.

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Citations for shilly-shally
Great mistake—Make up your mind and don't shilly shally. Agatha Christie, A Caribbean Mystery, 1964
But look, Your Highness, I didn't come to shilly-shally, so don't say anything to inhibit her. I want it straight. Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King, 1959
Origin of shilly-shally
In the great tradition of reduplicating a phrase to infuse it with a dose of levity, shilly-shally comes from the phrase “shall I, shall I.” When shilly-shally first entered English at the turn of the eighteenth century, it was spelled "shill I, shall I."