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dilly-dally Syllabification: dil·ly-dal·ly
Pronunciation: /ˈdilēˌdalē/

Definition of dilly-dally in English:

verb (dilly-dallies, dilly-dallying, dilly-dallied)

[no object] informal
Waste time through aimless wandering or indecision: don’t dilly-dally for too long
More example sentences
  • It's never too early to start loitering, and dilly-dallying.
  • Don't four-year-olds often dilly-dally, stall, and do just about everything slowly?
  • While they're dilly-dallying, my house is falling apart.
waste time, dally, dawdle, loiter, linger, take one's time, delay, temporize, stall, procrastinate, pussyfoot around, drag one's feet;
informal shilly-shally, lollygag, let the grass grow under one's feet
archaic tarry


Early 17th century: reduplication of dally.

  • shilly-shally from mid 18th century:

    People unable to make up their minds whether to do something are likely to ask themselves ‘Shall I?’ repeatedly. With the rhyming impulse also seen in dilly-dally (early 17th century) (dally came from the French for ‘to chat’ in the Middle Ages) and willy-nilly, people in the 18th century mocked this tendency by expanding it to ‘shill I, shall I?’, and so shilly-shally was born.

Words that rhyme with dilly-dally

Ali, alley, Allie, Ally, bally, dally, farfalle, galley, Halley, mallee, Mexicali, pally, Raleigh, rally, reveille, sally, tally, valley
Definition of dilly-dally in:
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