Definition of namby-pamby in US English:



  • Lacking energy, strength, or courage; feeble or effeminate in behavior or expression.

    ‘these weren't namby-pamby fights, but brutal affairs where heads hit the sidewalk’
    • ‘Really idle I mean, none of your namby-pamby idleness.’
    • ‘That's my namby-pamby liberal theory and I'm sticking to it until another one comes along.’
    • ‘I'm bored of all-these namby-pamby bloggers and commentators avoiding the issue; I'm also bored of posting stupid posts about how to say ‘cleavage’ in Latvian.’
    • ‘And that's not namby-pamby positive thinking; it's being intelligent.’
    • ‘The fact that those women are surrounded by a whole bunch of weak, namby-pamby men just makes it worse.’
    • ‘I can't just write namby-pamby lyrics, you know, just the run of the mill.’
    • ‘It is high time we got rid of the namby-pamby attitude to such behaviour - just because he didn't get an ice cream on his ‘x’ birthday he feels deprived.’
    • ‘None of this namby-pamby nonsense about love, happiness or respect from our Dear Leader.’
    • ‘It is waffly, namby-pamby sort of stuff that actually does not mean anything.’
    • ‘I can't stand namby-pamby wimps; it's my working-class background.’
    • ‘This week we have began to roll out the policies that will take us back to that position and they are not namby-pamby policies.’
    • ‘But I sense Ann would not have much sympathy for my namby-pamby indulgences.’
    • ‘She grinned at me and told me I was certainly better than any of the usual namby-pamby house guests.’
    • ‘None of this namby-pamby flopping about for our John; no, if a stout English player is going to cheat, he'll do it in manly fashion because ‘it's a man's game.’’
    • ‘I'd prefer a firm, ‘no, we are not going to be part of this’ to a namby-pamby policy of wait and see.’
    • ‘In fact he would probably think we were a bunch of namby-pamby liberals for feeding them at all.’
    • ‘So I don't see it as namby-pamby leadership; I think it's pretty tough leadership.’
    • ‘Being the namby-pamby left-wingers they are, they never replied.’
    • ‘If the namby-pamby society of today was given a few slaps we wouldn't have the problems we have now with the youngsters and it would be a safer country.’
    • ‘It would at least spare us a repeat of their namby-pamby hostilities.’
    weak, feeble, spineless, effeminate, effete, limp-wristed, womanish, prim, prissy, mincing, simpering, niminy-piminy, vapid, insipid, colourless, anaemic, ineffectual
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  • A feeble or effeminate person.

    • ‘I think as a prosecutor everyone thought I was a namby-pamby, and therefore much more defense-oriented and minded.’
    • ‘Now, her 11 weeks in gaol have turned her into a soft, left-leaning (she was already was quite left leaning with some of her policies) namby-pamby.’
    • ‘So much so that, after his father's death, he read through his father's precious sketchbooks, decided they were a bit namby-pamby and burnt them.’
    • ‘It may sound brutal, but at the moment the country's crime-fighting seems to lean towards the namby-pamby.’
    • ‘I wonder what sort of a bunch of namby-pambies there are in this town.’
    • ‘The first group (the namby-pambies) contrive to let their little darlings come out on top.’
    • ‘Stephen's allotted family role was that of namby-pamby.’
    • ‘Unless you're a complete namby-pamby, you'll be as good as somebody on that team.’
    • ‘I may not be popular, but well, the last man to hold this office was a cheerful tolerant namby-pamby who got himself eaten on school property.’


Mid 18th century: fanciful formation based on the given name of Ambrose Philips (died 1749), an English writer whose pastorals were ridiculed by Pope and others.