milquetoast

noun
milque·​toast | \ˈmilk-ˌtōst \

Definition of milquetoast 

: a timid, meek, or unassertive person

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Why is it milquetoast, and not milk toast?

Caspar Milquetoast was a comic strip character created in 1924 by the American cartoonist Harold T. Webster. The strip, called "The Timid Soul," ran every Sunday in the New York Herald Tribune for many years. Webster, who claimed that Milquetoast was a self-portrait, summed up the character as "the man who speaks softly and gets hit with a big stick." The earliest examples for Milquetoast used as a generic synonym for "timid person" date from the mid-1930s. Caspar's last name might remind you of "milk toast," a bland concoction of buttered toast served in a dish of warm milk.

Examples of milquetoast in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

There is something a little milquetoast and benign about that phrase. New York Times, "Paul Rudd, Larger Than Life but Still Nice," 6 July 2018 The metamorphosis of milquetoast Neil Gorsuch has baffled people who’ve followed him for years. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Romney threads the needle on Trump in Utah Senate debate," 30 May 2018 The metamorphosis of milquetoast Neil Gorsuch has baffled people who’ve followed him for years. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Romney threads the needle on Trump in Utah Senate debate," 30 May 2018 The metamorphosis of milquetoast Neil Gorsuch has baffled people who’ve followed him for years. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Romney threads the needle on Trump in Utah Senate debate," 30 May 2018 The metamorphosis of milquetoast Neil Gorsuch has baffled people who’ve followed him for years. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Romney threads the needle on Trump in Utah Senate debate," 30 May 2018 People can sometimes mistake Nat’s music as this sweet, idealized milquetoast. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, "Gregory Porter taps the music of Nat King Cole," 7 June 2018 The metamorphosis of milquetoast Neil Gorsuch has baffled people who’ve followed him for years. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Romney threads the needle on Trump in Utah Senate debate," 30 May 2018 The metamorphosis of milquetoast Neil Gorsuch has baffled people who’ve followed him for years. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Romney threads the needle on Trump in Utah Senate debate," 30 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'milquetoast.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of milquetoast

1935, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for milquetoast

Caspar Milquetoast, comic strip character created by H. T. Webster †1952 American cartoonist

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Dictionary Entries near milquetoast

Milosz

milpa

Milpitas

milquetoast

milreis

milsey

Milstein

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Time Traveler for milquetoast

The first known use of milquetoast was in 1935

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