• pusillanimous
  • audio pronunciation
  • \pyoo-suh-LAN-uh-mus\
  • DEFINITION

adjective

: lacking courage and resolution : marked by contemptible timidity
  • EXAMPLES

The senator resorted to mudslinging, calling his opponent "a pusillanimous pawn of special interest groups."

"Here's the pusillanimous and unprincipled attitude of the RUSU [Reading University Student Union] and its sad ilk, offered in their own words: modern university students should not do anything to give offense, and if anyone claims offense, they should stop whatever they are doing immediately." — From a blog post by Ken White at Popehat.com, October 23, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

Do you know someone who has a small, weak spirit, someone whose reserve of inner strength is too small to draw from in times of danger and adversity? If so, you'll find "pusillanimous" to be the perfect descriptor for that person. The Latin roots of this derisive adjective are "pusillus," meaning "very small" (and related to "pusus," meaning "boy") and "animus," which means "spirit" and is the ancestor to many words in our language, including "animal" and "animate." "Pusillanimous" first appeared in English in the 16th century, but it gained prominence in the 1970s when Vice President Spiro Agnew famously accused his ideological rivals of "pusillanimous pussyfooting."

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