S s


    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • UK Pronunciation
    • UK IPA
    • [shil-ee-shal-ee]
    • /ˈʃɪl iˌʃæl i/
    • /ˈʃɪl.iˌʃæl.i/
    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • [shil-ee-shal-ee]
    • /ˈʃɪl iˌʃæl i/

Definitions of shilly-shally word

  • verb without object shilly-shally to show indecision or hesitation; be irresolute; vacillate. 1
  • verb without object shilly-shally to waste time; dawdle. 1
  • noun plural shilly-shally irresolution; indecision; vacillation: It was sheer shilly-shally on his part. 1
  • adjective shilly-shally irresolute; undecided; vacillating. 1
  • adverb shilly-shally irresolutely. 1
  • intransitive verb shilly-shally be indecisive 1

Information block about the term

Origin of shilly-shally

First appearance:

before 1690
One of the 49% oldest English words
1690-1700; orig. repeated question, shall I? shall I? later altered on the model of its synonym dilly-dally

Historical Comparancy

Parts of speech for Shilly-shally


shilly-shally popularity

A pretty common term. Usually people know it’s meaning, but prefer to use a more spread out synonym. About 32% of English native speakers know the meaning and use word.
According to our data about 58% of words is more used. This is a rare but used term. It occurs in the pages of specialized literature and in the speech of educated people.

Synonyms for shilly-shally

verb shilly-shally

  • alternate — When you alternate two things, you keep using one then the other. When one thing alternates with another, the first regularly occurs after the other.
  • back and fill — to manoeuvre the sails by alternately filling and emptying them of wind to navigate in a narrow place
  • beat around the bush — to talk around a subject without getting to the point
  • beg the question — If you say that something begs a particular question, you mean that it makes people want to ask that question; some people consider that this use is incorrect.
  • call in question — a sentence in an interrogative form, addressed to someone in order to get information in reply.

noun shilly-shally

  • demurral — the act or an instance of demurring
  • indecisiveness — characterized by indecision, as persons; irresolute; undecided.
  • irresolution — lack of resolution; lack of decision or purpose; vacillation.
  • dawdler — to waste time; idle; trifle; loiter: Stop dawdling and help me with these packages!
  • irresoluteness — The state of being irresolute.

See also

Matching words

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