- whether one wishes it or not; willingly or unwillingly
- in a disordered way; helter-skelter
Origin of willy-nillycontr. ; from will I, nill I: see will and amp; nill
that is or happens whether one wishes it or not
- Whether desired or not: After her boss fell sick, she willy-nilly found herself directing the project.
- Without order or plan; haphazardly: “We lay our sleeping bags out willy-nilly, as if having fallen from the stars” (Rick Bass).
- Being or occurring whether desired or not: willy-nilly cooperation.
- Disordered; haphazard: willy-nilly zoning laws.
Origin of willy-nillyAlteration of will ye (or he or I), nill ye (or he or I), be you (or he or I) willing, be you (or he or I) unwilling.
(comparative more willy-nilly, superlative most willy-nilly)
- Whether desired or not.
- Without regard for consequences or the will of those affected.
- So people chasing money churn out novels willy-nilly.
- Seemingly at random, haphazardly
- The novel Alice in Wonderland describes a place where random things happen all willy-nilly.