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Thread: The "willies"


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    #1

    The "willies"

    I'm in doubt about this idiom. My dictionary says:

    willies
    A strong feeling of nervous apprehension and discomfort : that room gave him the willies.

    I've found a couple of examples about this. Most of them are "It gives me the willies". But I've also found "Have the willies":

    "...Needless to say, we both had the willies then!"
    "We slept together last night, because I had the willies."

    Yet, some of the native English speakers I know think it's incorrect. Is it?
    Oh, one more question, do you think this idiom is outdated?

    Thanks in advance!

  1. Ouisch's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The "willies"

    In American English, "the willies" is usually only used in the creepy, scary or uncomfortable feeling sense.

    "We left that old house as soon as we could; the creaking floors and other strange noises gave us the willies."

    "The sound of fingernails scraping a chalkboard gives me the willies!"


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    #3

    Re: The "willies"

    I know it can be used with "give"...
    But, is it wrong, and even illogical to use this expression with the verb "have"?

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: The "willies"

    Quote Originally Posted by ksequen View Post
    I know it can be used with "give"...
    But, is it wrong, and even illogical to use this expression with the verb "have"?
    No, the use of "willies" with "have/has/had is perfectly all right.

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    #5

    Re: The "willies"

    "It gives me the willies" and "to have the willies" are also correct in BrE.

    I'm not sure it's an idiom I would recommend, though. In BrE at least, it can have an inadvertently comic effect.

    All the best,

    MrP


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    #6

    Re: The "willies"

    Better late, than never...

    Thanks guys!

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: The "willies"

    Quote Originally Posted by ksequen View Post
    Better late, than never...

    Thanks guys!
    It is. You're welcome.

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