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Where did the saying willy nilly come from?


The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology says it's a contraction of “will I, nill I” or “will he, nill he” or “will ye, nill ye.” The word “nill” is from the Old English “nyllan,” a combination of “ne” (no) and “willan” (will). The phrase “willy-nilly” means “unwillingly” or “haphazardly.”

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