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Willy-Nilly

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Will, a listener from South Burlington, Vermont, says he always considered willy-nilly to be his own special phrase. But he’s realized over the years that its original meaning has been replaced. What was originated as will I, nill I or will he, nill he — that is, with or without the will of someone — has come to mean “haphazard.” This transformation likely has to do with its rhyme. This is part of a complete episode.

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