Definition of willies in English:


plural noun

the willies
  • A strong feeling of nervous discomfort:

    ‘that room gave him the willies’
    • ‘‘It gave you the willies,’ said Brendan J. McGarry, a veteran transit police officer.’
    • ‘Because we don't have the experience of what would have happened under other policy settings, I think bright-eyed economic rationalism still gives people the willies.’
    • ‘It gives even field-hardened terrorism experts the willies: bad guys launching shoulder-fired missiles at jetliners, killing hundreds and grounding air traffic.’
    • ‘She believed in all sorts of things that give conservatives the willies.’
    • ‘Now I know that just the thought of having a doctor check for a problem is giving you the willies, but think about it.’
    • ‘One tape gives me the willies - it's about a stuffed bear who is rejected in the store because he lacks a button, so at night he searches through the department store for the button that will make him loved.’
    • ‘The notion of having the government take over an industry that represents about 15 percent of the U.S. economy gives U.S. executives the willies.’
    • ‘I don't know about you, but snakes give me the willies.’
    • ‘Not surprisingly, the case has given everyone from the police to the courts - and yours truly - a case of the willies.’
    • ‘It's a spider which in theory is harmless, except that just looking at its big hairy legs gives me the willies.’
    • ‘Two terms that really give me the willies are ‘sound designer’ and ‘experimental musician.’’
    • ‘Even other people's cats and dogs and canaries gave her the willies (as she, it often seemed, gave them).’
    • ‘Frankly the history behind that name gives me the willies but its different when my dad says it.’
    • ‘Whatever the hang-up, catfish give some people the willies, even here in the Southern Catfish Belt.’
    • ‘OK, now that I've got the willies, let's talk about the pesky critters.’
    • ‘Lead guitarists from rock bands give me the willies also.’
    • ‘No one cares about it anymore; Gnat's more interested in exterior ants, the Death Farm gives my wife the willies, but I feed them and give them water.’
    • ‘Beautiful countryside (like Canada in miniature), but those roads and the rail/car bridges gave me the willies!’
    • ‘But there's no question he gives the political establishment the willies, as even the best-dressed party crashers tend to do.’
    • ‘I was delighted to hear, a couple of years ago, that barn owls had taken to peering into bedroom windows of flats in East Delhi, giving the incumbents the willies no doubt!’


Late 19th century (originally US): of unknown origin.