One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A feeble or effeminate person.
- ‘He has devised the word ‘Guardianistas’, for the pantywaists (nervous nellies) who read this paper and have an occasional reservation about American foreign policy.’
- ‘It's about sushi-gobbling pantywaists in the luxury boxes playing out their fantasies.’
- ‘Then again, it turns out that, as a nation, Sweden could drink any steak-eating New Yorker pantywaist under the table. 46 litres of spirits a year?’
- ‘Ultimately the little roughneck escapes, and she bonds with the town's nerdy little pantywaist.’
- ‘Imagine my disgust at having to sit in the dark with ascot-wearing pantywaists who call the movies ‘cinema’ and smoke imported cigarettes.’
attributive Effeminate or feeble.
- ‘‘Did that set him off on one of his tirades about machismo, the Right Stuff, and pantywaist New Men?‘she asked scornfully.’
- ‘As for violence, though there is tripping in soccer, it is a pantywaist affair when compared to the ruffians of ice hockey or the fearful hitting of pro football.’
- ‘Just because I like to look at animals doesn't mean I'm some damn pantywaist tree-hugger.’
- ‘Was it not enough that I had to endure 40 hours a week with them in desultory conversations about which books to ‘face out,’ in something defined by that pantywaist word, ‘chat’?’
- ‘Her pantywaist father denies her nothing.’
1930s: extended use of the term's literal sense ‘child's garment consisting of panties attached to a bodice’.
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