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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.
Origin of willies
1895-1900, Americanism; origin obscure; cf. -s3


[wil-ee] /ˈwɪl i/
a male given name, form of William.
a female given name.


or willey

[wil-ee] /ˈwɪl i/
noun, plural willies.
willow (def 4).
verb (used with object), willied, willying.
to willow (cotton).
1825-35; special use of dial. willy, Old English wilige basket (orig. one made of willow twigs); akin to willow Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for willies
Historical Examples
  • It was not willies knock, she knew, but it might be news of Willie.

  • If I'm in for having a trained nurse do it for me, it'll give me the willies.

    T. Tembarom Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The very sight of a boiled egg beside my plate at breakfast gives me the willies.

    Tutt and Mr. Tutt Arthur Train
  • He is quite good at the willies,24 and so I think we have got a fair chance.

    Sixty Squadron R.A.F. Group-Captain A. J. L. Scott
  • A guy like me, which has got a real expressive face, could get the willies just looking at them.

  • In a word, we had succumbed to the "willies," and would permit no man to utter a word of criticism against them.

    Life in a Tank Richard Haigh
  • They give me the jimjams, the willies, and I want to get away.

    A Yankee in the Far East George Hoyt Allen
  • It was no fault of willies that the play had not succeeded, and it was cruel to visit such a misfortune upon his innocent head.

  • The 'willies,' by the way, seem to be especially inspiring to the Scottish balladists.

  • Luckily most people had the willies so badly after the first shot that they couldn't swear what sort of noise they had heard.

    Secret History Revealed By Lady Peggy O'Malley C. N. Williamson and A. M. Williamson
British Dictionary definitions for 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


(Brit, informal) a childish or jocular term for penis
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 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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Slang definitions & phrases for willies



Concerted violent behavior by groups of usually black teenagers: A pack of 33 teenagers swept out of Harlem for a night of wilding, attacking anyone who looks vulnerable

[late 1980s+ Urban black; the word became widespread after a particular attack in April 1989]

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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Idioms and Phrases with 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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