higgledy-piggledy

adverb

hig·​gle·​dy-pig·​gle·​dy ˌhi-gəl-dē-ˈpi-gəl-dē How to pronounce higgledy-piggledy (audio)
: in a confused, disordered, or random manner
tiny hovels piled higgledy-piggledy against each otherEdward Behr
higgledy-piggledy adjective

Did you know?

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.

Examples of higgledy-piggledy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Go local in Tokyo Courtesy of Trunk Hotels Hidden in the higgledy-piggledy lanes of Tokyo’s Kagurazaka district (also known as ‘Little Kyoto’), Trunk(House) helps its guests experience the city in a way few other hotels can. Chris Schalkx, Vogue, 4 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'higgledy-piggledy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

origin unknown

First Known Use

1598, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of higgledy-piggledy was in 1598

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Dictionary Entries Near higgledy-piggledy

Cite this Entry

“Higgledy-piggledy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/higgledy-piggledy. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

higgledy-piggledy

adverb
hig·​gle·​dy-pig·​gle·​dy
ˌhig-əl-dē-ˈpig-əl-dē
: in confusion : topsy-turvy
higgledy-piggledy adjective

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