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”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈmɪlktəʊst/
Audio (RP) (file)
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈmɪlkˌtoʊst/
- Homophone: milk toast
- Hyphenation: milque‧toast
- (originally US, informal, derogatory) Meek, timid; lacking character or effectiveness.
- 1951 July 29, Donald W[illiam] Nicholson, quoting Joseph W[illiam] Martin Jr., “Extension of Remarks of Donald W. Nicholson of Massachusetts in the House of Representatives”, in Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 82d Congress, First Session: Appendix (United States House of Representatives), volume 97, part 14, Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, published 31 July 1951, ISSN 0363-7239, OCLC 13530005, page A4814, column 1:
- The truth is that we are cursed with a "milquetoast" Government operating under "milquetoast" policies. Fear has become a national policy.
- 1961, Edward C[hristie] Banfield, “The Mythology of Influence”, in Political Influence, Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press of Glencoe, OCLC 933952628; republished New Brunswick, N.J.; London: Transaction Publishers, 2003 (2009 printing), →ISBN, page 302:
- If Bach had any guts, he wouldn't take that. He's too much of a Milquetoast guy.
- 1994, William G. Lycan, “Fiction and Essence”, in Modality and Meaning, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, →ISBN, section 4 (The Modal Properties of Fictional Individuals), page 115:
- I should have listened to my mother when she told me to stay out of journalism because of idiot milquetoast jerk reporters like you!
- 2001, Barry Gifford, “The Getaway”, in Out of the Past: Adventures in Film Noir, revised edition, Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, →ISBN, page 68:
- 2007, John Rosemond, “Command, Compel, Confirm”, in Mary McNeil, editor, Parenting by the Book: Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child, New York, N.Y.: Howard Books, →ISBN, part 3 (Discipline), page 239:
- Like that well-meaning mom, parents employ Milquetoast speech whenever they whine, complain, plead, entreat, entice, bribe, and explain themselves persuasively.
- 2008, Gerard DeGroot, “Meet the New Boss”, in The 60s Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic History of a Disorderly Decade, London: Macmillan, →ISBN; paperback edition, London: Pan Books, 2009, →ISBN, page 393:
- 2018 February 18, David Ehrlich, “‘Eva’ Review: Not Even Isabelle Huppert Playing an Irritated Prostitute Can Save this Limp Melodrama”, in IndieWire, archived from the original on 16 April 2019:
milquetoast (plural milquetoasts)
- (originally US, informal, derogatory) A person of meek or timid disposition; a person who lacks character or effectiveness.
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.