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shilly-shally

[shil-ee-shal-ee] /ˈʃɪl iˌʃæl i/
verb (used without object), shilly-shallied, shilly-shallying.
1.
to show indecision or hesitation; be irresolute; vacillate.
2.
to waste time; dawdle.
noun, plural shilly-shallies.
3.
irresolution; indecision; vacillation:
It was sheer shilly-shally on his part.
adjective
4.
irresolute; undecided; vacillating.
adverb
Origin
1690-1700
1690-1700; orig. repeated question, shall I? shall I? later altered on the model of its synonym dilly-dally
Related forms
shilly-shallier, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Word Origin and History for shilly shally

shilly-shally

v.

"to vacillate," 1782, from adverbial expression to stand shilly-shally (1703), earlier shill I, shall I (1700), a fanciful reduplication of shall I? (cf. wishy-washy, dilly-dally, etc.). From 1734 as an adjective, by 1755 as a noun. Related: Shilly-shallying (1816).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for shilly shally

shill

noun
  1. (also shillaber) An associate of an auctioneer, gambler, hawker, etc, who pretends to be a member of the audience and stimulates it to desired action: The shill is innocuous-looking (1916+ Circus)
  2. A barker, hawker, advertising or public relations person, or anyone else whose job is to stimulate business; flack (1940s+)
verb

: That summer he shilled for a sidewalk hawker (1914+)

[origin unknown; perhaps, since it is a shortening of shillaber, ultimately fr Shillibeer, the name of an early 1800s British owner of a large bus company, the reference being to persons hired as decoys to sit in buses and attract passengers]


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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