Query (3rd and final try): Origin of "give/have the willies"
gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Aug 24 03:41:12 UTC 2014
The Inspector, Literary Magazine and Review, Volume 2, London: 1827, has a story called "The Willi-Dance. / An Hungarian Legend." and says (http://bit.ly/1ps7xFC):
More than all, loved Emelka to hear the legend of the Willi-dance, which the crone always thus began—" Every maiden "who dies, when she is betrothed, is called a Willi. The Willies wander "restless on the earth, and hold their nightly dances wherever roads "meet; if any man then meets them, they dance with him till he dies; "he is then the bridegroom of the youngest Willi, who thereby at last "is enabled to rest; such a one is my sister. Ah! often have I seen "her in the moon-beam,"—and then followed the tale of the lover, the sorrows and the death of the poor young maiden. In stories like this, of the region of spirits, the luckless Emelka sought to forget the bitterness of earthly suffering.
See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernatural_beings_in_Slavic_folklore.
I have no proof that this is the origin, but it certainly seems like a good starting point.
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On Aug 23, 2014, at 8:24 PM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at mst.edu> wrote:
> This is my final attempt. (My earlier two messages included quoted material=
> from OED3; maybe that's what made my
> first two e-mails come out as gibberish.)
> So here goes. I've been asked the origin of "willies" as in "give/have the =
> willies." OED lists it as "Origin unknown."
> It's of U.S origin, first attested in 1896. "To give s.o. the willies' is t=
> o make them nervous.
> Would anyone have any idea about the origin of this term/expression?
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