hig·​gle·​dy-pig·​gle·​dy | \ ˌhi-gəl-dē-ˈpi-gəl-dē How to pronounce higgledy-piggledy (audio) \

Definition of higgledy-piggledy

: in a confused, disordered, or random manner tiny hovels piled higgledy-piggledy against each other— Edward Behr

Other Words from higgledy-piggledy

higgledy-piggledy adjective

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We really have no idea where higgledy-piggledy came from, but we do know it's a perfect demonstration of English speakers' fondness for reduplication—that is, for forming new words by repetition of a base word often with a slight change of sound. In this case, the base word might actually be the second term, which encompasses the word pig and calls to mind the association of pigs with disorderliness. Although we don't know when exactly higgledy-piggledy first appeared in print, we do know that the word has been around since before 1600. John Florio's A Worlde of Wordes, an English-Italian dictionary first published in 1598, used higgledy-piggley as a defining term for the Italian word alla rinfusa, along with two other examples of reduplication, pell-mell and helter-skelter.

First Known Use of higgledy-piggledy

1598, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for higgledy-piggledy

origin unknown

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The first known use of higgledy-piggledy was in 1598

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Cite this Entry

“Higgledy-piggledy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/higgledy-piggledy. Accessed 7 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for higgledy-piggledy


adverb or adjective
hig·​gle·​dy-pig·​gle·​dy | \ ˌhi-gəl-dē-ˈpi-gəl-dē \

Kids Definition of higgledy-piggledy

: in a messy way : topsy-turvy Clothes were scattered higgledy-piggledy. Their apartment was higgledy-piggledy.

More from Merriam-Webster on higgledy-piggledy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for higgledy-piggledy

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about higgledy-piggledy


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