Willy-nilly. It’s a phrase I’ve heard most of my life, and I knew how to use it. But it wasn’t until a few years ago, when I was reading an old book and saw it written a different way, that I had a clue where in the world this word came from. In this book, it was written will he, nill he.

Suddenly it made more sense! It wasn’t just a silly sounding word meant to portray a crazy method of doing things by its very sound (although…). It was a contraction! (Go ahead–say “duh” if you must, LOL.)

This phrase has been around since about 1600 and appeals to the verb will not in the “being” sense, but in the “purpose or intent” sense. So will he, nill he (or I or ye) meant “whether he means to or not.” If something was done willy-nilly, it was without obvious purpose, haphazardly.

Now to begin my week in a way not willy-nilly. 😉

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