Word of the Day : December 10, 2010

shilly-shally

play
verb SHIL-ee-SHAL-ee

Definition

1 : to show hesitation or lack of decisiveness or resolution

2 : dawdle

Did You Know?

Shall I? Shall I? When you just don't know what to do, it may feel as if asking that question twice will somehow help you decide. The early 1600s saw the use of the phrase "stand shall I, shall I" to describe vacillation or indecision. By 1700, the phrase had been altered to "shill I, shall I," most likely because people just liked the vowel alteration (that's the same process that gave us "dillydally" and "wishy-washy"). Soon after, the adverbial "shilly-shally" made the jump from slang to literature, and by the late 1700s it was being used not only as an adverb, but also as an adjective, a noun, and a verb.


Examples

Don't shilly-shally like a fool. Just make up your mind and buy the car.

"When then-gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy met with Tim Bannon a few weeks before Election Day and offered him what could be considered the second most-powerful position in state government, Bannon jumped at the opportunity. 'I didn't have to shilly-shally much in responding to that,' Bannon said of his job as Gov.-elect Malloy's chief of staff." -- From an article by Brian Lockhart, published November 20, 2010 on ctpost.com (Connecticut Post)



Name That Synonym

What synonym of "shilly-shally" rhymes with "favor"? The answer is ...


Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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