: in a confused, disordered, or random manner
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.
Maya took a deep breath and began the daunting task of sorting through the hundreds of photos scattered higgledy-piggledy across the floor.
"Indeed, the hallways of Geokon's offices are lined with metal filing cabinets, and workshops have been added in higgledy-piggledy over the years, giving the premises a haphazard feel." — John Lippman, The Valley News (White River Junction, Vermont), 11 Nov. 2018
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