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

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a male given name, form of William.
a female given name.


noun, plural willies.
willow ( def 4 ).
verb (used with object), willied, willying.
to willow (cotton).
Also, willey.

1825–35; special use of dial. willy, Old English wilige basket (orig. one made of willow twigs); akin to willow

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
willies (ˈwɪlɪz)
pl n
slang the willies nervousness, jitters, or fright (esp in the phrase give (orget) the willies)
[C20: of unknown origin]

willy (ˈwɪlɪ)
informal (Brit) a childish or jocular term for penis

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

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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Slang Dictionary

willies definition

  1. n.
    a case of fear or anxiety. (See also screaming-meemies.) : That kind of movie always gives me the willies.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see under the creeps.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
These stories of blank contracts give me the willies in particular.
Two geeks in the same room for any length of time gives non-geeks the willies.
But still, this kind of research gives me the willies.
If it's his or her first one, the patient will probably get the willies.
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