From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From the poem Namby-Pamby (1726) by Henry Carey, a satire on the sentimental pastorals of the poet Ambrose Phillips[1][2]


  • (file)


namby-pamby (comparative more namby-pamby or namby-pambier, superlative most namby-pamby or namby-pambiest)

  1. Insipid and sentimental.
  2. Lacking vigor or decisiveness; spineless; wishy-washy.
    • 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair [], London: Bradbury and Evans [], published 1848, →OCLC:
      [] she was still, as heretofore, a namby-pamby milk-and-water affected creature []
    • 1999, Nicola Diane Thompson, quoting Marie Corelli (c. 1905), Victorian Women Writers and the Woman Question, page 246:
      She boasts to Bentley that the Prince of Wales admires her books for the “fearless courage” of her opinions. “He said, ‘There is no namby-pamby nonsense about you – you write with a man’s pen, and I should think you would fight your enemies like a man!’ These words delighted me, for to be ‘namby-pamby’ would be a horror to me,” she writes.



namby-pamby (plural namby-pambies)

  1. One who is insipid, sentimental, or weak.
    • 1725, Capt. Gordon [Henry Carey], Namby-Pamby: Or a Pangyric on the New Versification Addressed to A⸺ P⸺ Esq., →OCLC:
      Namby Pamby’s doubly Mild,
      Once a Man, and twice a Child;
      To his Hanging-Sleeves restor’d
      Now he foots it like a Lord;
      Now he Pumps his little Wits;
      Sh—ing Writes and Writing Sh—s,[sic]
  2. Talk or writing which is weakly sentimental or affectedly pretty.
    • 1892 [1843], Thomas Babington Macaulay, “Life and writings of Addison”, in Lord Macaulay's Essays[1], page 790:
      Another of Addison’s favourite companions was Ambrose Phillipps, a good Whig and a middling poet, who had the honour of bringing into fashion a species of composition which has been called, after his name, Namby-Pamby.




namby-pamby (third-person singular simple present namby-pambies, present participle namby-pambying, simple past and past participle namby-pambied)

  1. To coddle.
    • 2012, Alan Tyers, Who Moved My Stilton?: The Victorian Guide to Getting Ahead in Business:
      While we business men of Britain have little time for this sort of namby-pambying towards the next generation, who are often feckless, tearful, small, dirty or all of the above, there is no doubt that youths have their place in commerce.

Derived terms[edit]