namby-pamby

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adjective nam·by-pam·by \ ˌnam-bē-ˈpam-bē \

Definition of namby-pamby

1 :lacking in character or substance :insipid

namby-pamby

noun

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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.

Origin and Etymology of namby-pamby

Namby Pamby, nickname given to Ambrose Philips


NAMBY-PAMBY Defined for English Language Learners

namby-pamby

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adjective

Definition of namby-pamby for English Language Learners

  • : too weak or gentle : not strong or strict enough


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