willies

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

The meaning "spell of nervousness", recorded since 1896, stems perhaps from the woollies, a dialectal term for "nervous uneasiness", probably in reference to the physical itchiness of wool garments.

Noun[edit]

willies

  1. plural of willy
  2. (colloquial, with "the") A feeling of nervousness or fear.
    Staying in the haunted house gave me the willies.
    • 1974, Joseph Heller, Something happened, page 3:
      I get the willies when I see closed doors. Even at work, where I am doing so well now, the sight of a closed door is sometimes enough to make me dread that something horrible is happening behind it, something that is going to affect me adversely.

Synonyms[edit]

References[edit]

  • willies” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2017.