One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A silly person.
- ‘That's code to nervous Coalition nellies, is it not, to hold their nerve?’
- ‘Is it any wonder that he gets impatient with the nervous nellies from the old nations who think they have a bit more experience with wars designed to bring peace to the world, and are reluctant to jump into yet another one.’
- ‘We're raising a generation of nervous nellies.’
- ‘I'm a big old nelly who hates flying and am likely to be sweating like a fat girl on a hot day.’
- ‘It just so happens there are enough nervous nellies in the Labor and National Parties to ensure that such a proposal would not get up.’
- ‘Do we have a crew of nervous nellies running the country?’
- ‘The inability of these nervous nellies to hold their peace for a couple of months and save their moaning for the appropriate ALP forum is seriously hampering the ALP's chances of victory on November 10.’
- ‘Our frontier was not settled by nervous nellies with degrees in Peace Studies.’
- ‘Were the nervous nellies and the backside coverers more persuasive?’
- ‘Wait till you had the bandage ready, and the whole reform opportunity would be suffocated by nervous nellies.’
- ‘Coincidentally, none of them has ever been among the nervous nellies who pale at the thought of being alone with yours truly.’
- ‘Along the way he reformed administrative law, updated the evidence laws and introduced youth conferencing; he also gave gay law reform and defamation law a red hot shot, before being scotched by the nervous nellies in Cabinet Office.’
2offensive An effeminate homosexual man.
not on your nelly
informal Certainly not.‘Charlie shook his head vigorously. “Not on your nelly, mate.”’
- ‘Surely this would make her a heroine, a whistle-blower, someone who was being bullied and discriminated against, an all-round good girl with priceless victim credentials - but no, not on your nelly.’
- ‘Generating incremental sales commissions through a low-cost distribution channel like the website its passengers use - not on your nelly!’
- ‘Frankie Howerd was the man with the catchphrases ‘titter ye not’, ‘shut yer face’ and ‘not on your nelly’.’
- ‘Not on your nelly, says SCO - and is there anyone left on the planet who isn't aware of SCO's litigation against Linux and open source?’
- ‘None of them are prepared to stand up and defend her - not on your nelly!’
- ‘Not on your nelly, though unlike thousands of volunteers, he was actually paid a fee, albeit a flat, modest one - which he preferred to keep to himself.’
1930s: from the given name Nelly.
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