1

shilly-shally

adverb \ ˈshi-lē-ˌsha-lē \

Definition of shilly-shally

: in an irresolute, undecided, or hesitating manner

shilly-shally was our Word of the Day on 11/12/2017. Hear the podcast!

Origin and Etymology of shilly-shally

irregular reduplication of shall I


2

shilly-shally

adjective

Definition of shilly-shally

First Known Use of shilly-shally

1734

in the meaning defined above

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

3

shilly-shally

verb

Definition of shilly-shally

shilly-shallied; shilly-shallying
1 : to show hesitation or lack of decisiveness or resolution
2 : dawdle

First Known Use of shilly-shally

1754

in the meaning defined at sense 1

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

4

shilly-shally

noun

Definition of shilly-shally


SHILLY-SHALLY Defined for English Language Learners

shilly-shally

Definition of shilly-shally for English Language Learners

  • : to hesitate and take a long time to do or decide something



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up shilly-shally? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

a figure representing a hated person

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a-closeup-of-a-sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!