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[wil-eez] /ˈwɪl iz/
noun, (used with a plural verb) Informal.
nervousness or fright; jitters; creeps (usually preceded by the):
That horror movie gave me the willies.
1895-1900, Americanism; origin obscure; cf. -s3 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for the-willies


plural noun
(slang) the willies, nervousness, jitters, or fright (esp in the phrase give (or get) the willies)
Word Origin
C20: of unknown 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 the-willies
1896, "spell of nervousness," perhaps from the woollies, a dialectal term for "nervous uneasiness," probably in reference to the itchiness of wool garments.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with the-willies
see under the creeps
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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