1. Without thought, order, or reason; haphazardly. You can't just choose a college willy-nilly—you have to do some research. It appears he listed the items willy-nilly, with no regard to how they were loaded.
2. Regardless of whether or not it is desired. I'm afraid you're going to be assigned to a classroom willy-nilly.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
do something ˌwilly-ˈnilly(informal)
1 do something whether you want to or not: She was forced willy-nilly to accept the company’s proposals.
2 do something in a careless way without planning: Don’t just use your credit card willy-nilly.
This expression is a shortened form of ‘willing or not willing’.
See also: something
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
willy-nilly, to do something
Willingly or not; anyhow, any old way. This very old term was once will-he, nill-he, nill being the negative of will (i.e., will not or won’t). It was in print by the late thirteenth century and was picked up by numerous writers, including Shakespeare (in Hamlet). Today it is sometimes used in the original sense—that is, this will happen, whether or not one wants it to—and also (erroneously according to the OED but not American dictionaries), in the meaning of sloppily or in disorganized fashion.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer