The Phrase ‘Gives Me The Willies’ May Have Originated In New Hampshire
Did you know that the phrase "gives me the willies" may have originated in the valleys of New Hampshire? In case you are unfamiliar with this idiom, Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "give me the willies" as a "fit of nervousness." It can also mean having butterflies or even the "heebie-jeebies."
The possible back-story behind the phrase is both fascinating and tragic as it involves the deaths of an entire family whose last name is Willey. According to AMC Outdoors, Samuel Willey Jr. and his family wanted to fulfill the American dream when they moved to Crawford Notch in the early 1800's. That vision was getting into the inn-keeping business, so Mr. Willey and his wife packed up all of their worldly possessions, and took their five children to Crawford Notch to start a new life. They bought and remodeled a house into a "two-story home with stables and a barn" as per the Appalachian Mountain Club. The Willey House Inn and Tavern was the beginning to the end of this lovely family. As the story goes, the whole family was killed in a "massive, destructive landslide." In a bizarre twist of fate, the inn survived and the expression of giving someone the willies was born. Allegedly.