Definition of weak-kneed in US English:



  • 1Weak and shaky as a result of fear or excitement.

    • ‘The target audience will instead be those red-blooded men who go weak-kneed when they see a sweaty woman astride a horse, dressed in leather and wielding a battle axe.’
    • ‘It wasn't exertion that left him weak-kneed and trembling, but rather the gut-wrenching horror of Joe's scream and his pleas for mercy.’
    • ‘Hereabouts ewes wander at will followed by their weak-kneed, painfully innocent lambs, the majority just days old.’
    • ‘His eyes met mine and I felt curiously light-headed and weak-kneed. I tore my eyes away with an effort, trying not to think about him.’
    • ‘Exercise seemed to help the nausea, although I was weak-kneed with hunger, cold, and probably fear.’
    • ‘Curiously weak-kneed and breathless, I climb onto the trackside and check my time: 74.16 seconds.’
    • ‘Women went weak-kneed at the sight of him; soon after the film opened, he received 3,000 proposals of marriage in a week.’
    • ‘Adam opened the door for Maria and helped her out of the car, putting a steadying arm around her waist since, between sleeping pills and vomiting, she was still a little queasy and weak-kneed.’
    • ‘He often prepared dishes that he and Becky had discovered in their nomadic hippie days in Mexico, and I still get weak-kneed just thinking of his roasted Coca-Cola chicken with hominy and his boiled yucca with olive oil and sea salt.’
    • ‘He said he had a stomachache and felt weak-kneed.’
    • ‘Diane clutched my hand and looked at me with a hunger in her eyes, a come-hither look that always made me feel weak-kneed and helpless, like putty in her hands.’
    faint, dizzy, light-headed, giddy
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    1. 1.1 Lacking in resolve or courage; cowardly.
      ‘no one could say that our news programs have been weak-kneed in their coverage’
      • ‘Which is why we will, along with other weak-kneed pacifist nations, likely pay for the lack of moral fiber of our own politicians.’
      • ‘In the words of the newspapers, he ‘got away with it’, largely thanks to the pathetic weak-kneed state of the opposition within and without the Labour Party.’
      • ‘He wants to be just anti-war enough to appeal to anti-war Democrats but just pro-war enough that he doesn't come across as weak-kneed.’
      • ‘So prevalent are the warbloggers that they now have awards, just like the weak-kneed Hollywood liberals most of them despise.’
      • ‘Not all governments make weak-kneed concessions to guarantee fuel supplies.’
      • ‘To put this another way, the instinctive worry about such things as patenting the gene pool or privatizing the air does not come solely from nostalgia or a weak-kneed fear of change.’
      • ‘Despite past criticism for being weak-kneed and soft on dictators, the ex-President has advocated persevering in negotiations even with those nations Washington views as hostile.’
      • ‘Liberals were seen as weak-kneed wimps, unwilling to use force internationally and preoccupied with social welfare internally; local patriotisms prevailed everywhere.’
      • ‘But weak-kneed nations that tried to make deals with terrorists were repeating the mistakes of the nations that tried to appease Hitler in the 1930s.’
      • ‘It's more important to keep law and order in this society than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don't like the look of helmets.’
      • ‘Drastic cuts call for drastic counter-measures, not weak-kneed objections and compromises.’
      • ‘If this movie makes you think that much, then you're too weak-kneed to vote.’
      • ‘The mere thought of this weak-kneed party getting into power sends shudders down my spine.’
      • ‘Randall Parker has a post suggesting that the President's weak-kneed attitude to illegal immigration is losing him conservative votes without gaining him any Latino votes.’
      • ‘This would mean engaging in debate about the value of science - challenging the government's weak-kneed science curriculum, for example - rather than running and complaining to Ofsted about one particular school.’
      • ‘They do want to destroy each other, but they share the higher priority of defeating the weak-kneed people on either side who would sell out their grand ambitions for total victory.’
      • ‘Cardiff's weak-kneed Liberals are trembling in case anyone finds out.’
      • ‘The weak-kneed do-gooders who apparently run this country have a lot to answer for.’
      irresolute, spineless, craven, cowardly, pusillanimous, timorous, timid, indecisive, ineffectual, useless, inept, effete, meek, tame, powerless, ineffective, impotent, namby-pamby, soft, lily-livered, faint-hearted
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