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Related to willy-nilly: pithy, haphazardly, succinctly


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

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.
See also: something, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
"While I am fully in favour of prescribing it to people with conditions like diabetes if they have a problem, I am not in favour of handing out Viagra to patients willy-nilly. It seems that in Wales you can have free prescriptions, free parking in hospital car parks and free Viagra, but you'll have to wait twice as long for an operation as someone in England.
As the leadership is well aware, however, a commitment that could total $1 billion cannot be entered into willy-nilly. Provisions for disbursement of grants, especially, demand careful study.
Yet we live with it willy-nilly, courtesy of the string of French nuclear power stations ranged along the Channel coast.
Finally, she thought of comparing those sounds with those of human babies repeating adult syllables willy-nilly.
I have tried to establish my conviction that evangelization, education, and apologetics are universal, in that everyone has a point of view which he willy-nilly proclaims, explores, and justifies.
In both, fictional characters chat happily with nonfictional ones, the sequence of events is moved willy-nilly to serve a fictional purpose and in the end, the calling of art is served.
Baby Snake, 2004, is an expanse of lime green ground traversed willy-nilly by lines that literally carve their way, exposing multiple layers of paint, to form torqued geometric shapes.
"Within seconds [of the order], a mass arrest was ordered and the police began penning everybody willy-nilly in together with a mesh orange fence," related Macomber.
What it was never intended to be was an easy 'get out of jail' card handed out willy-nilly before Christmas.
Describing herself as an academic and an activist, Mihesuah takes on a wide range of concerns: feminism in the Native context, the problems and benefits of Native activism, exploitation of Indians by non-Indians who invade the reservations and then exploit what they gather (she does not have anything good to say about the popular book On the Rez by Ian Frazier), discrimination against Indian academics, problems that stem from poverty, crime, lack of education and health care, and loss of identity and culture as Natives are thrust willy-nilly into an environment of two cultures and expected to survive in both.
Caught in this cycle of under provisioning and over-spending, companies need approaches that will keep files readily available for users, yet will help them stop spending money willy-nilly on expensive disk-based storage systems.
We willy-nilly dethrone the heroes of the day and exalt new ones in the journals and popular media.
"That's why people are dying--even people with infants are going willy-nilly into the wilderness."
Adam's septet ever so fluidly wound a path from stiff ceremonial locksteps into a sense of abandon in which dancers partnered each other apparently willy-nilly until a final stamping section re-established a sense of inevitability and closure.
Willy-nilly this biography becomes a history of Russia as well as a biography.