Definition of shilly-shally in English:


Line breaks: shilly-shally
Pronunciation: /ˈʃɪlɪʃali

verb (shilly-shallies, shilly-shallying, shilly-shallied)

[no object]
Fail to act resolutely or decisively: the government shilly-shallied about the matter
More example sentences
  • Not even knowing to write the alphabets, he can read newspapers flawlessly without shilly-shallying, no matter how tough the word is.
  • ‘They then started shilly-shallying,’ she said.
  • However, I have been shilly-shallying, due to the cramped space of my flat and the densely inhabited area where I reside.
dither, be indecisive/irresolute, be undecided, be uncertain, be unsure, be doubtful, vacillate, waver, teeter, hesitate, oscillate, fluctuate, falter, drag one's feet;
British haver, hum and haw;
Scottish swither


[mass noun] Back to top  
Indecisive behaviour: a no-nonsense lack of shilly-shally
More example sentences
  • He had had enough of the shilly-shallying that now dominates the game's upper echelons.
  • One result of this shilly-shallying is that much of the talk about liberty becomes a self-serving charade.
  • But it was so thrilling to be around someone who's been making films for so long that they know exactly what they want and how they want their world to look that there's no shilly-shallying.


mid 18th century: originally as shill I, shall I, reduplication of shall I?.



(also shilly-shallier) noun
More example sentences
  • They opted instead for a policy of ‘splitting’ whereby the chaff of shilly-shallyers and equivocators could be shorn away to leave a core group of those absolutely committed to revolution at all costs.
  • It is the shilly-shalliers who have contributed most to the present deplorable state of your society.
  • The author has it in for politicians, liberals, student activists, pinkos and shilly-shallyers.

Definition of shilly-shally in:

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Pronunciation: dɪˈmɒrəlʌɪz
cause (someone) to lose confidence or hope