namby-pamby was our Word of the Day on 08/20/2016. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Did You Know?
Eighteenth-century poets Alexander Pope and Henry Carey didn't think much of their contemporary Ambrose Philips. His sentimental, singsong verses were too childish and simple for their palates. In 1726, Carey came up with the rhyming nickname Namby-Pamby (playing on Ambrose) to parody Philips: "Namby-Pamby's doubly mild / Once a man and twice a child ... / Now he pumps his little wits / All by little tiny bits." In 1729, Pope borrowed the nickname to take his own satirical jab at Philips in the poem "The Dunciad." Before long, namby-pamby was being applied to any piece of writing that was insipidly precious, simple, or sentimental, and later to anyone considered pathetically weak or indecisive.
NAMBY-PAMBY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of namby-pamby for English Language Learners
: too weak or gentle : not strong or strict enough
Learn More about namby-pamby
Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for namby-pamby
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up namby-pamby? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).