Meaning of helter-skelter in English:


Pronunciation /ˌhɛltəˈskɛltə/

See synonyms for helter-skelter

Translate helter-skelter into Spanish


  • Involving disorderly haste or confusion.

    ‘she had blamed her grogginess on a helter-skelter lifestyle’
    • ‘Tell them that you feel friendship is undervalued in this helter-skelter crazy materialistic world.’
    • ‘Approaching this year's jamboree in Gloucestershire, he is riding better than ever at 34, having put the brakes on a helter-skelter lifestyle.’
    • ‘The stunningly modern helter-skelter overpasses seem rather incongruous with a melange of bikes and cars that follow a system of road safety entirely their own.’
    • ‘Fans will face the usual scraping and scrimping and helter-skelter hunting for tickets.’
    • ‘Just when you think that there is nothing that can surprise you any more in the crazy helter-skelter world that is Scottish football, along comes an event which makes your jaw drop.’
    • ‘At times in this hectic, helter-skelter world, an unpretentious reminder of the obvious is in order, and Dick and Larry have done it here.’
    • ‘Efforts to vaccinate the nation's children went forward immediately, in somewhat helter-skelter fashion, to beat the summer onset of the disease.’
    • ‘Inevitably you pay a price for treating the novel as helter-skelter melodrama.’
    • ‘Science seems to offer him a point from which to view the helter-skelter human sagas created by the phantasms of mind and emotion.’
    • ‘The game continued at a helter-skelter pace, amid which Phil Vickery emerged from the replacements' bench to the loudest cheer of the afternoon.’
    • ‘And any reader who had imagined that her helter-skelter style was actually the product of careful contrivance will here be disabused.’
    • ‘I smiled to myself as the wind blew tossing the leaves helter-skelter and making them dance like ballerinas, minus the tutus.’
    • ‘A helter-skelter mix of documentary and music video, the film contextualises Vivaldi's life through The Four Seasons, the most recorded and popular classical music ever written.’
    • ‘It's a helter-skelter ride and you can reach speeds of more than 10 knots in the process.’
    • ‘Fellini's tale of a middle-aged woman sloughing off her inhibitions is a caprice of a piece, a helter-skelter slide through the stages of abandon.’
    • ‘He also noticed rumpled clothing all over the floor, and a number of ripped plastic packages lying helter-skelter on the carpet.’
    • ‘Our minds don't work in a straight line, but rather more like a pinball machine, bouncing ideas off one another helter-skelter.’
    • ‘Giggling, his friend Brent ran helter-skelter beside him.’
    • ‘We can not simply go out, helter-skelter, and try to transform the biosphere, transform this planet, without knowing what we're doing.’
    • ‘Vehicles coming in the gates are checked for bombs, and white U.N. vehicles, mostly Toyota 4Runners, are parked helter-skelter around a dirt lot.’
    disordered, disorderly, chaotic, muddled, jumbled, untidy, haphazard, disorganized, unorganized, disarranged, topsy-turvy
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  • In disorderly haste or confusion.

    • ‘they were hurtling helter-skelter down the pavement’
    headlong, pell-mell, hotfoot, post-haste, hastily, in a hurry, hurriedly, as fast as possible, as quickly as possible, at full speed, at full pelt, at full tilt, hell for leather, recklessly, precipitately, impetuously, impulsively, carelessly, heedlessly, wildly
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  • 1British A fairground amusement consisting of a tall spiral slide winding around a tower.

    ‘There's a vast market, with traders clad in frock coats, a fairground with hurdy-gurdies and helter-skelters, an artificial ice rink and three outdoor stages full of choirs and bands.’
    • ‘There are waltzers, dodgems, helter-skelters and one or two old fashioned merry-go-rounds with properly painted horses.’
    • ‘In a bid to create a rival attraction to the London Eye and the Manchester Wheel, Ulverston Town Council decides to convert the monument into a helter-skelter.’
    • ‘His design transports you to the gaudy, decrepit fairground, complete with working helter-skelter and carousel, and shows you the beauty in the ramshackle and ruinous.’
    • ‘Large, multi-coloured plastic chutes on the mound would make great helter-skelter slides.’
    • ‘I was spewing up iced-coffee and chips after about fifty descents in a helter-skelter.’
  • 2in singular Disorder; confusion.

    ‘the helter-skelter of a school day’
    • ‘That's the way it's supposed to be - an evolving drama with nuance, color, deliberate pacing, and bursts of action that take you away from the helter-skelter of our otherwise rush-rush worlds.’
    • ‘But why dwell on such things when the sun has returned with renewed resolve, teasing blooms from the helter-skelter of bare branches?’
    • ‘Also, you have to bear in mind that a pullout cannot just be a chaotic one, a helter-skelter.’
    • ‘In 1990, Ireland's GDP per head was 75 per cent of Belgium's but such has been the helter-skelter of the 1990s, we are now almost ten per cent richer.’
    • ‘Somebody has to get slain in the helter-skelter of this combat.’
    • ‘Off the pitch, O'Sullivan leads a quiet life away from the helter-skelter of international rugby.’
    • ‘The object has been to trim some of the excesses indulged in during the helter-skelter of Celtic tiger times.’
    • ‘I must say that I find ‘Harmonica Dance’ more than just clever, and that ‘Clockwork’ merits more than description as another helter-skelter.’
    • ‘And the band were rarely better than on this track, with its climb-the-ladder introduction that paused briefly before sending you off down their pop-rock helter-skelter.’
    • ‘His fast, free-wheeling style, is inspired lunacy, and his helter-skelter of a show promises the audience the ride of their lives.’
    • ‘The feeling at the pit now is that we have just gone through a helter-skelter of emotions and we need to put the men's needs first and have a period of stabilisation.’
    • ‘Only when I was outside again, in the mad helter-skelter of sound and light and asphalt, did I feel properly disgusted with my sentimentality and the way I'd laid myself open for the cameras.’
    • ‘Other similar ideas slip down the lurid helter-skelter of modern life.’


Late 16th century (as an adverb): a rhyming jingle of unknown origin, perhaps symbolic of running feet or from Middle English skelte ‘hasten’.