Namby-pamby

May 21, 2022

Namby-pamby / adjective / nam·by-pam·by

Namby-pamby is the word we use to describe people believed to be lacking in strength or courage. We see someone described as “namby-pamby” as feeble or spineless in response to situations that call for a stronger behavior response.

People often associate the word “namby-pamby” with a male who is behaving in an “effeminate” fashion. Being called a “namby-pamby” is not a compliment. It is a sign that whomever is doing the name-calling lacks respect for the person who is the subject of their verbal attacks.

Etymology

The English word namby-pamby entered language in the mid-1700s around 1745. We derived it from early Ambrose and adopted it into popular use in the mid-18th century. Etymologists say the word was initially used to describe the characteristics of an English writer ridiculed by the public and leading officials of the time. We use namby-pamby as both an adjective and a noun with its original meaning.

In a Sentence

The namby-pamby just stood by and watched while his family was in danger.

The employees all secretly called their boss a namby-pamby behind his back.

Stop acting like such a namby-pamby and step up to the plate!

Synonym

Effeminate, Spineless

Antonym

Backboned, Strong

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