Query (3rd and final try): Origin of "give/have the willies"

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Sun Aug 24 03:24:53 UTC 2014

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 to make them nervous.

Would anyone have any idea about the origin of this term/expression?

Gerald Cohen

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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