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higgledy-piggledy

[hig-uh l-dee-pig-uh l-dee] /ˈhɪg əl diˈpɪg əl di/
adverb
1.
in a jumbled, confused, or disorderly manner; helter-skelter.
adjective
2.
confused; jumbled.
Origin
1590-1600
1590-1600; rhyming compound of uncertain origin
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for higgledypiggledy

higgledy-piggledy

/ˈhɪɡəldɪˈpɪɡəldɪ/
adjective, adverb
1.
in a jumble
noun
2.
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 higgledypiggledy

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 higgledypiggledy

higgledy-piggledy

adjective

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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