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mol·​ly·​cod·​dle ˈmä-lē-ˌkä-dᵊl How to pronounce mollycoddle (audio)
mollycoddled; mollycoddling ˈmä-lē-ˌkäd-liŋ How to pronounce mollycoddle (audio)

transitive verb

: to treat with an excessive or absurd degree of indulgence and attention
ˈmä-lē-ˌkäd-lər How to pronounce mollycoddle (audio)


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dated, disparaging : a pampered or effeminate man or boy

Did you know?

Coddling eggs is delicate business. You need to cook them slowly and gently, keeping the water just below boiling. Given how carefully you need to treat the eggs, it's not surprising that some believe the cooking sense of coddle led to the sense meaning “to treat with excessive care or kindness.” Another source is possible though: the “pamper” coddle may be linked to caudle, a curative drink of yore made usually of warm ale or wine mixed with bread or gruel, eggs, sugar, and spices. Regardless, mollycoddle was formed by combining the “pamper” sense of coddle with Molly, a nickname for Mary. In its earliest known uses in the mid-1800s, mollycoddle was a noun, a disparaging and now-dated synonym of our modern wimp. But in short time, it was being used as the verb you're likely to encounter today.

Choose the Right Synonym for mollycoddle

indulge, pamper, humor, spoil, baby, mollycoddle mean to show undue favor to a person's desires and feelings.

indulge implies excessive compliance and weakness in gratifying another's or one's own desires.

indulged myself with food at the slightest excuse

pamper implies inordinate gratification of desire for luxury and comfort with consequent enervating effect.

pampered by the amenities of modern living

humor stresses a yielding to a person's moods or whims.

humored him by letting him tell the story

spoil stresses the injurious effects on character by indulging or pampering.

foolish parents spoil their children

baby suggests excessive care, attention, or solicitude.

babying students by grading too easily

mollycoddle suggests an excessive degree of care and attention to another's health or welfare.

refused to mollycoddle her malingering son

Examples of mollycoddle in a Sentence

Verb The coach has been mollycoddling the team's star players. refused to mollycoddle her malingering son and sent him off to school
Recent Examples on the Web
You’re not mollycoddled during the week and are expected to act as any professional crew member would. Helen Iatrou, Robb Report, 14 Sep. 2023 So football generally, and pro football specifically, helped reassure the country that American men were not mollycoddled softies. James Surowiecki, New York Times, 19 Dec. 2019 Koenig may have supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, but Sanders’s mollycoddling platform never approaches the real-life perplexities that Koenig — a pop poet — sings about. Armond White, National Review, 10 Dec. 2019 Her poise is the result of a loving yet punctilious upbringing by parents determined that their fame and its accompanying perks were not going to mollycoddle their two children. Michael Callahan, Town & Country, 1 Aug. 2018 Both sides are mollycoddling their own predicaments with this talk. Chad Pergram, Fox News, 15 Mar. 2018 This mollycoddled outdated practices, like harvesting by hand. The Economist, 14 Dec. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mollycoddle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Molly, nickname for Mary

First Known Use


1865, in the meaning defined above


1837, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of mollycoddle was in 1837


Dictionary Entries Near mollycoddle

Cite this Entry

“Mollycoddle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
mol·​ly·​cod·​dle ˈmäl-ē-ˌkäd-ᵊl How to pronounce mollycoddle (audio)
: a person whose character has been weakened because of excessive pampering : sissy


2 of 2 verb
mollycoddled; mollycoddling

More from Merriam-Webster on mollycoddle

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