milque·​toast | \ ˈmilk-ˌtōst How to pronounce milquetoast (audio) \

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 This is in high contrast with her brother, Walt (Michael Shannon), who runs Harlan’s publishing company and wears muted, drab cardigans and milquetoast pleated khakis. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, "The Curious Case of Chris Evans’s Sweater," 18 Dec. 2019 Before the days of Peyton Manning and his milquetoast insurance ads, there was football’s true dual threat—or in the case of Sammy Baugh, quadruple threat. The Si Staff,, "100 Figures Who Shaped the NFL’s First Century," 28 Aug. 2019 One Paseo, unfortunately, is essentially a milquetoast mall with a parking problem. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: A love affair with Michael Mina’s cooking heats up with International Smoke," 22 Aug. 2019 The show is low on ongoing intrigue and the milquetoast episodic plotlines range from more bland intimate cases meant to expose character details to a generic car chase ring meant to facilitate car chases. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Bulletproof': TV Review," 6 Aug. 2019 Jadeveon Clowney will end his milquetoast, barb-free holdout in typical holdout-ending fashion. Conor Orr,, "OK, OK, But How Much Would Tom Brady Get From a New Team in Free Agency?," 6 Aug. 2019 Jesse Eisenberg stars as Casey, a quintessential modern milquetoast. Ty Burr,, "Jesse Eisenberg chooses fight over flight, in ‘The Art of Self-Defense’," 17 July 2019 The hippest act Hess remembers playing at the Eisenhower White House was the milquetoast Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians. Wil Haygood, Town & Country, "The Best (and Worst) White House Parties of All Time," 1 Jan. 2013 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

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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The first known use of milquetoast was in 1935

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Milquetoast.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

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