plural noun

wil·​lies ˈwi-lēz How to pronounce willies (audio)
: a fit of nervousness : jitters
used with the

Examples of willies in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But those little black spiders that run like the wind give me the willies. Murr Brewster, The Christian Science Monitor, 5 Jan. 2023 We should all be indebted to Emma Thompson for taking on this character, who might have given even Charles Dickens the willies. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Dec. 2022 Impossible movie, there will be plenty more willies to be had. Nick Romano, EW.com, 5 Sep. 2022 This way, a sign says, is the lower cave: a 3/4-mile tunnel that’s not especially challenging nor tight enough to trigger claustrophobic willies. Scott Hewitt, oregonlive, 19 Aug. 2022 Memory is imperfect, as Forth explains in his book, and encounters with a modern-day hobbit can scare the willies out of anyone. Rebecca Coffey, Forbes, 16 May 2022 The veg sandwich, in which a salty and steroidal oyster mushroom subs for the bird, just gives me the willies. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 5 July 2022 Those social media videos of people willingly jumping off tall pinnacles while wearing the flimsiest of parachutes or minuscule flying gear are enough to give the rest of us the willies. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 22 Oct. 2021 But most of the Christmas-y efforts feel original, including a bloody throw down in a retail store, a twisty story with heisting Santas, and a yuletide family dinner that'll give you the willies. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2021 See More

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

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

circa 1896, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of willies was circa 1896

Dictionary Entries Near willies

Cite this Entry

“Willies.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/willies. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


noun plural
wil·​lies ˈwil-ēz How to pronounce willies (audio)
: a fit of nervousness : jitters
gives me the willies
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