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helter-skelter

[hel-ter-skel-ter] /ˈhɛl tərˈskɛl tər/
adverb
1.
in headlong and disorderly haste:
The children ran helter-skelter all over the house.
2.
in a haphazard manner; without regard for order:
Clothes were scattered helter-skelter about the room.
adjective
3.
carelessly hurried; confused:
They ran in a mad, helter-skelter fashion for the exits.
4.
disorderly; haphazard:
Books and papers were scattered on the desk in a helter-skelter manner.
noun
5.
tumultuous disorder; confusion.
Origin of helter-skelter
1585-1595
1585-95; rhyming compound, perhaps based on *skelt, Middle English skelten to hasten (< ?); reduplication with initial h parallel to hubble-bubble, higgledy-piggledy, etc.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for helter-skelter
Historical Examples
  • The result would resemble the helter-skelter of modern economic society.

    The Next Step Scott Nearing
  • Nobody but he could have twisted and turned in such a helter-skelter fashion.

    The Tale of Kiddie Katydid Arthur Scott Bailey
  • Consternation reigned supreme in an instant and a helter-skelter flight followed.

    War from the Inside Frederick L. (Frederick Lyman) Hitchcock
  • I only know we ran quickly, helter-skelter, back home, back to Mazapevka.

    Jewish Children Sholem Naumovich Rabinovich
  • Similarly ambulance car-drivers could not join in the helter-skelter for security on the road to Fricourt.

  • She flung off her coat in a helter-skelter way, and rolled up her sleeves.

    A Spoil of Office Hamlin Garland
  • Such trifles help one to understand the helter-skelter way in which more important things get said and believed.

  • And how did the incubators and the helter-skelter and the midgets suit the taste of ye?'

    Sixes and Sevens O. Henry
  • Anne, now, drives me nearly wild with her rushy, helter-skelter ways.

    The Girls and I Mary Louisa Stewart Molesworth
  • helter-skelter the men rushed out, Tony and his mates in front.

    Colonial Born G. Firth Scott
British Dictionary definitions for helter-skelter

helter-skelter

/ˈhɛltəˈskɛltə/
adjective
1.
haphazard or carelessly hurried
adverb
2.
in a helter-skelter manner
noun
3.
(Brit) a high spiral slide, as at a fairground
4.
disorder or haste
Word Origin
C16: probably of imitative origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for helter-skelter
adv.

also helter skelter, 1590s, perhaps from skelte "to hasten, scatter hurriedly," with the first element there merely for the sake of rhyme. As an adjective from 1785.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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