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Derived from Latin pusillanimis (faint-hearted, timid).


  • IPA(key): /pjuːsɪlˈænɪməs/, /pjuːsəlˈænəməs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ænɪməs


pusillanimous (comparative more pusillanimous, superlative most pusillanimous)

  1. Showing ignoble cowardice, or contemptible timidity. [from 16th c.]
    The soldier deserted his troop in a pusillanimous manner.
    • 1882Mark Twain, On the Decay of the Art of Lying [1].
      Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling.
    • 2007, David Potter, chapter 1, in The Emperors of Rome, page 36:
      Octavian, by contrast, was pusillanimous in battle ... but proved himself extremely adept in the political arena

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