pusillanimous was our Word of the Day on 02/01/2014. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Examples of pusillanimous in a Sentence
pusillanimous politicians who vote according to whichever way the political wind is blowing
Did You Know?
Do you know someone who has a small, weak spirit, someone whose reserve of inner strength is too small to draw from in times of danger and adversity? If so, you'll find pusillanimous to be the perfect descriptor for that person. The Latin roots of this derisive adjective are pusillus, meaning "very small" (and related to pusus, meaning "boy") and animus, which means "spirit" and is the ancestor to many words in our language, including "animal" and "animate." Pusillanimous first appeared in English in the 16th century, but it gained prominence in the 1970s when Vice President Spiro Agnew famously accused his ideological rivals of "pusillanimous pussyfooting." And despite what you may have heard, pusillanimous does not serve as the basis for pussyfoot, pussycat, or a certain related vulgarism.
Synonymschicken, chickenhearted, chicken-livered, craven, dastardly, gutless, lily-livered, milk-livered [archaic], poltroon, cowardly, recreant, spineless, unheroic, yellow
Antonymsbrave, courageous, daring, dauntless, doughty, fearless, gallant, greathearted, gutsy, hardy, heroic (also heroical), intrepid, lionhearted, stalwart, stout, stouthearted, valiant, valorous
Related Wordsdiffident, fainthearted, fearful, timid, timorous; afraid, frightened, scared; careful, cautious, wary; bashful, coy, shy; feeble, soft, unmanly, weak
Near Antonymsaudacious, bold, brazen, cheeky, nervy; plucky, spirited, spunky; determined, resolute
Synonym Discussion of pusillanimous
- a cowardly failure to stand up for principle
- the pusillanimous fear of a future full of possibility
- secretly despised her own craven yes-men
- a dastardly attack on unarmed civilians
PUSILLANIMOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Learn More about pusillanimous
Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pusillanimous
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up pusillanimous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).