Willy-nilly is an adverb that means without care or planning. Synonyms of willy-nilly include haphazardly, random, carelessly.

It can also mean something is done with or without a person’s approval. This definition is somewhat out-dated and related to the phrases original meaning. In the past willy-nilly meant willingly or unwillingly; or without consideration for those involved.


Today nil means zero or nothing, but archaically, nill meant the opposite of will. In the sense that a person was unwilling or a person refused something. The old phrase will you nill you is most famously used by William Shakespeare in The Taming of the Shrew.


Check Your Text

Speak Your Mind

About Grammarist
Contact | Privacy policy | Home
© Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist