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[hig-uh l-dee-pig-uh l-dee] /ˈhɪg əl diˈpɪg əl di/
in a jumbled, confused, or disorderly manner; helter-skelter.
confused; jumbled.
Origin of higgledy-piggledy
1590-1600; rhyming compound of uncertain origin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for higgledy-piggledy
Historical Examples
  • A paper of tea and a loaf of bread I found in a higgledy-piggledy mixture of clothes, books and papers.

    The Belovd Vagabond William J. Locke
  • All his old values had been kicked into higgledy-piggledy confusion.

    The Rough Road William John Locke
  • I have heard, by roundabout channel, that Herschel says my book "is the law of higgledy-piggledy."

  • Here we disembarked, higgledy-piggledy, just as we had embarked.

    Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt
  • She plumped into it higgledy-piggledy and curled up, an unsightly, humpful excrescence upon its suave surface.

    Wanted: A Husband Samuel Hopkins Adams
  • Among the many industries the higgledy-piggledy Shop boasted was that of laundering fine linen and laces.

    Mary Louise and Josie O'Gorman Emma Speed Sampson
  • And here's a Noah's Ark, full of higgledy-piggledy animals—why, what are you doing here?

    The Admiral's Caravan Charles E. Carryl
  • She went in the front door of a cheap boarding house not far from the higgledy-piggledy Shop.

    Mary Louise and Josie O'Gorman Emma Speed Sampson
  • The effect would be ludicrous, and give the beds a higgledy-piggledy appearance.

    Beautiful Bulbous Plants John Weathers
  • She had conducted her to the higgledy-piggledy Shop as a place where her fine damask could be laundered well.

    Mary Louise and Josie O'Gorman Emma Speed Sampson
British Dictionary definitions for higgledy-piggledy


adjective, adverb
in a jumble
a muddle
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 higgledy-piggledy

"confusedly, hurriedly," 1590s, a "vocal gesture" [OED] probably formed from pig and the animal's suggestions of mess and disorder. Reduplications in the h-/p- pattern are common (e.g. hanky-panky, hocus-pocus, hinch(y)-pinch(y), an obsolete children's game, attested from c.1600).

Edward Moor, "Suffolk Words and Phrases" (London, 1823), quotes a list of reduplications from Ray's "Collection of English Words" (1768), all said to "signify any confusion or mixture;" the list has higgledy-piggledy, hurly-burly, hodge-podge, mingle-mangle, arsy-versy, kim-kam, hub-bub, crawly-mauly, and hab-nab. "To which he might have added," Moor writes, crincum-crankum, crinkle-crankle, flim-flam, fiddle-faddle, gibble-gabble, harum-scarum, helter-skelter, hiccup-suickup, hocus-pocus, hotch-potch, hugger-mugger, hum-drum, hum-strum, hurry-scurry, jibber-jabber, prittle-prattle, shilly-shally, tittle-tattle, and topsy-turvy. Many of them seem to date to the 16th century.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for higgledy-piggledy



Confused; chaotic; messy: I was walking in dark corridors that were all higgledypiggledy

[1598+; origin uncertain; perhaps fr the disorderly herding configuration of pigs]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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