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

Definition of milquetoast

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a timid, meek, or unassertive person



Definition of milquetoast (Entry 2 of 2)

1 of a person : timid, meek, or unassertive Do we really want a someone who is a milquetoast halfhearted candidate or someone who will defend the Constitution with every fiber of her being?— Dana B. Orr
2 : lacking in character or vigor : wishy-washy … after declining multiple opportunities to comment during the reporting of the story, he finally produced a most milquetoast statement Friday.— Jerry Brewer

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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: Noun That milquetoast thinking can become self-fulfilling prophecy, though. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Critical to keep pressure on in San Diego’s bid for new sports arena," 17 Aug. 2020 Booker has portrayed McGrath as a milquetoast centrist, ignoring how a moderate may be more electable in the ruby-red state. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "After Bernie Sanders loss, Left tries to show political muscle in congressional primaries," 18 June 2020 The game prominently features the perennially underrated DK (and his expanded universe) as opposed to the milquetoast Mario. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "Games getting us through COVID-19—blocks, roguelites, whatever Death Stranding is," 25 Apr. 2020 King believed complacency and milquetoast protestations were more effective in promoting white supremacy than outright bigotry. Nylah Burton,, "The 2020 Candidates Can’t Sanitise Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy," 20 Jan. 2020 By comparison, a Padme fake-out funeral seems milquetoast. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "The next wild Star Wars twist has emerged in a Darth Vader comic," 8 Feb. 2020 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

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


1931, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for milquetoast


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


from Caspar Milquetoast — more at milquetoast entry 1

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The first known use of milquetoast was in 1931

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Last Updated

3 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Milquetoast.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

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