Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors. 2013.

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  • willy-nilly — willy nil|ly [ˌwıli ˈnıli] adv [Date: 1600 1700; Origin: will I nill I (whether) I am willing (or) I am unwilling ; nill to be unwilling (11 19 centuries), from Old English nyllan, from ne not + wyllan ( WILL1)] 1.) if something happens willy… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Willy nilly — Wil ly nil ly Whether I (he, she, they) want to or not. See {Will I, nill I}, etc., under 3d {Will}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • willy-nilly — c.1600, contraction of will I, nill I, or will he, nill he, or will ye, nill ye, lit. with or without the will of the person concerned. See NILL (Cf. nill) + WILL (Cf. will) (v.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • willy-nilly — ► ADVERB 1) whether one likes it or not. 2) without direction or planning; haphazardly. ORIGIN later spelling of will I, nill I «I am willing, I am unwilling» …   English terms dictionary

  • willy-nilly — [wil′ē nil′ē] adv. [contr. < will I, nill I: see WILL1 & NILL] 1. whether one wishes it or not; willingly or unwillingly 2. in a disordered way; helter skelter adj. that is or happens whether one wishes it or not …   English World dictionary

  • willy-nilly — [[t]wɪ̱li nɪ̱li[/t]] also willy nilly 1) ADV: usu ADV with v, also ADV with cl If something happens to you willy nilly, it happens whether you like it or not. The government were dragged willy nilly into the confrontation. 2) ADV: usu ADV after v …   English dictionary

  • willy-nilly — wil|ly nil|ly [ ,wıli nıli ] adverb 1. ) in a careless way, without planning: They can t just spend money willy nilly. Books lay scattered through the house willy nilly. 2. ) if something happens willy nilly, it happens whether you want it to or… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • willy-nilly — 1. if something happens willy nilly, it happens whether the people who are involved want it to happen or not. Both countries are being drawn, willy nilly, into the conflict. 2. without any order. We threw our bags willy nilly into the back of the …   New idioms dictionary

  • willy nilly — Will Will, v. i. To be willing; to be inclined or disposed; to be pleased; to wish; to desire. [1913 Webster] And behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus . . . touched him,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • willy-nilly — /wil ee nil ee/, adv. 1. in a disorganized or unplanned manner; sloppily. 2. whether one wishes to or not; willingly or unwillingly: He ll have to do it willy nilly. adj. 3. shilly shallying; vacillating. 4. disorganized, unplanned; sloppy: willy …   Universalium

  • willy nilly — adverb /ˌwɪliˈnɪli/ a) Whether desired or not. So people chasing money churn out novels willy nilly. b) Without regard for consequences or the will of those affected. Alice in Wonderland describes a place where random things happen all willy… …   Wiktionary

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