Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “willy-nilly”

willy-nilly

adverb     /ˌwɪl.iˈnɪl.i/ informal
If something happens willy-nilly, it happens even if the people who are involved do not want it to happen: Both sides were drawn, willy-nilly, into the conflict.Unwilling and reluctantReady and willingLacking interest and enthusiasm without any order: She threw her clothes willy-nilly into a drawer.Dirty and untidy
(Definition of willy-nilly adverb from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of willy-nilly

Browse related topics

You are looking at an entry to do with Dirty & untidy, but you might be interested in these topics from the Clean, dirty and cleaning topic area:

Definitions of “willy-nilly” in other dictionaries

Translations of “willy-nilly”

Word of the Day

generous

willing to give money, help, kindness, etc., especially more than is usual or expected

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More