milquetoast

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

Definition of milquetoast

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a timid, meek, or unassertive person

milquetoast

adjective

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 One day, a milquetoast accountant (Jason Bateman) discovers that Diane has hacked his information, which leads to a crazy cross-country trip in which the two characters are reluctantly stuck together. Tim Grierson, Vulture, "Every Melissa McCarthy Movie Performance, Ranked," 9 Apr. 2021 The life-sized bronze replica captures Wilson in all his Midwestern milquetoast glory. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, "Column: The most controversial thing about Gov. Pete Wilson’s statue is its dull irrelevance," 13 Dec. 2020 On the House side, two events broke a prevailing comity (enabled by the milquetoast Bob Michel GOP). Jack Fowler, National Review, "Biden, Never," 30 Oct. 2020 Joe Burrow and the offense look better each week, and the Titans' milquetoast pass rush and secondary represent a sneaky-good matchup. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, "Tennessee Titans vs. Cincinnati Bengals picks, predictions: Who wins Week 8 NFL game?," 30 Oct. 2020 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, refinery29.com, "The 2020 Candidates Can’t Sanitise Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy," 20 Jan. 2020

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

Noun

1935, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1931, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for milquetoast

Noun

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

Adjective

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

25 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Milquetoast.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/milquetoast. Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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