milquetoast

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See also: Milquetoast

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the character Caspar Milquetoast of the comic strip The Timid Soul, created by American cartoonist Harold Tucker Webster (1885–1952) and first published in 1924; the character was named after the American dish milk toast (a food consisting of toasted bread in warm milk).[1]

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Adjective[edit]

milquetoast (comparative more milquetoast, superlative most milquetoast)

  1. (originally US, informal, derogatory) Meek, timid; lacking character or effectiveness.
    Synonyms: feeble, ineffectual, insipid

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Noun[edit]

milquetoast (plural milquetoasts)

  1. (originally US, informal, derogatory) A person of meek or timid disposition; a person who lacks character or effectiveness.
    Synonyms: softy, wimp, wuss; see also Thesaurus:milksop
    • 1939 October 21, Alexandra Kropotkin, “To the Ladies”, in Fulton Oursler, editor, Liberty, volume 16, number 42, New York, N.Y.: Liberty Publishing, OCLC 72942004, page 51, column 1:
      The Milquetoasts of this world seldom wake up in time to get tough effectively, Mr. [Harold Tucker] Webster fears. [...] Webster considers him a worthy citizen—of the kind that had better begin to show a little more spunk before it is too late.
    • 1988, Muriel Larson, Me and My Pet Peeves, Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, →ISBN, page 79:
      The Milquetoasts of this world are the victims of the steamrollers. I used to be numbered among the Milquetoasts and was periodically used or flattened! I came to realize, however, that even though Christians are to be humble and cooperative, they also are accountable to God to use their time wisely, to do what He wants them to do, and to stand up for what is right and biblical.
    • 1990, Richard M. Fried, “Two Eras, and Some Victims”, in Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN; paperback edition, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 1991, →ISBN:
      That scientists favored international control of the atom made conservatives even more mistrustful. J[ohn] Parnell Thomas rued the surrender of control to such "a group of milktoasts."
    • 1990, Frank Manchel, “A Representative Period of American Film (1913–1919)”, in Film Study: An Analytical Bibliography, volume 2, Rutherford; Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; London; Toronto, Ont.: Associated University Presses, →ISBN, page 1400:
      Of the thirteen films he [Douglas Fairbanks] made independently, the most noteworthy was WILD AND WOOLLY (1917), a melodramatic story about an Eastern milquetoast who becomes a frontier hero.
    • 1996, Louis Baldwin, “Clare Boothe Luce: Powerful Politician (1903–1987)”, in Women of Strength: Biographies of 106 who have Excelled in Traditional Male Fields, A.D. 61 to the Present, Jefferson, N.C.; London: McFarland & Company, →ISBN, page 42:
      [Clare Boothe Luce] was no woman to be married to a milquetoast, and Henry R[obinson] Luce, cofounder and colorful, forceful honcho of the nascent Time empire, was anything but that.
    • 2004, Elizabeth A. Ford; Deborah C. Mitchell, “The Ladder of Class”, in The Makeover in Movies: Before and After in Hollywood Films, 1941–2002, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, →ISBN, page 91:
      Initially, our heroine hooks up with some milktoast of a guy with lots of money and little personality. Then he comes along—a man she can't push over, a man her wealth and social position can't influence.

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