willy-nilly

adverb or adjective wil·ly-nil·ly \ ˌwi-lē-ˈni-lē \

Definition of willy-nilly

1 : by compulsion : without choice
2 : in a haphazard or spontaneous manner

Origin and Etymology of willy-nilly

alteration of will I nill I or will ye nill ye or will he nill he


WILLY-NILLY Defined for English Language Learners

willy-nilly

adverb

Definition of willy-nilly for English Language Learners

  • : in a careless and unplanned way

  • : in a way that does not allow any choices or planning



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up willy-nilly? 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

sticky or viscid

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!