milquetoast

1 of 2

noun

milque·​toast ˈmilk-ˌtōst How to pronounce milquetoast (audio)
: a timid, meek, or unassertive person

milquetoast

2 of 2

adjective

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

Did you know?

Why is it milquetoast, and not milk toast?

Caspar Milquetoast is a comic strip character created in 1924 by cartoonist Harold T. Webster. Beginning a few years after the character's debut, the term milquetoast came to describe a timid or meek person. Caspar's last name is fitting because milk toast is a weak, bland concoction of buttered toast served in a dish of warm milk.

Examples of milquetoast in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Martin is a milquetoast on the matter, hand-waving about heritage and compromise. Mark Athitakis, Washington Post, 7 June 2023 The gentle, self-effacing milquetoast is also a loving, silly uncle, which makes his estrangement from Phyllis and her children even more painful. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, 8 Nov. 2021 Jesse Eisenberg stars as Casey, a quintessential modern milquetoast. Ty Burr, BostonGlobe.com, 17 July 2019 Key players remain maddeningly passive — Gleeson isn’t the most dynamic of actors to begin with, and his Milne is a mumbling milquetoast, moping about with his hands in his pockets, as if work-shopping Eeyore. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, 19 Oct. 2017
Adjective
President Biden and Speaker McCarthy came to terms on a rather milquetoast bipartisan agreement to raise the debt ceiling. David Harsanyi, National Review, 8 June 2023 And if viewers didn't anticipate Odenkirk taking this kind of role, their surprise is shared in Nobody by Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov), a ruthless Russian mafia chief who can't believe a seemingly milquetoast guy like Hutch is snuffing out entire squadrons of his best foot soldiers. Johnny Loftus, EW.com, 24 Aug. 2022 But even Vandemoer was a milquetoast presence in his brief time on camera, and was awkwardly inserted into the re-creations, playing himself. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 17 Mar. 2021 The public response from many of these Texas companies has been milquetoast. Wired, 7 July 2022 Some might scoff at its inclusion on milquetoast Baroque compilations and its paint-by-numbers imagery of birds, storms, and boozing peasants, as helpfully described in the sonnets that accompany each seasonal concerto. BostonGlobe.com, 10 Oct. 2021 There are white families, too, though one (Beck Bennett, Aidy Bryant, Andrew Dismukes) is written as a pack of dopes and the other (Mikey Day, Heidi Gardner) is milquetoast. Matthew Love, Vulture, 16 May 2021 This was the question that loomed over the mostly milquetoast fare of the rest of the broadcast. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, 6 Feb. 2023 The renewable energy industry, meanwhile, had a more milquetoast post-election opening—despite its forthcoming advantages under Biden. Tim McDonnell, Quartz, 9 Nov. 2020

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

Adjective

from Caspar Milquetoast — more at milquetoast entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

1935, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1931, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of milquetoast was in 1931

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near milquetoast

Cite this Entry

“Milquetoast.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/milquetoast. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

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