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[wish-ee-wosh-ee, -waw-shee] /ˈwɪʃ iˌwɒʃ i, -ˌwɔ ʃi/
lacking in decisiveness; without strength or character; irresolute.
washy or watery, as a liquid; thin and weak.
Origin of wishy-washy
First recorded in 1685-95; gradational compound based on washy
Related forms
wishy-washily, adverb
wishy-washiness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wishy-washy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You're not the kind of blonde who'll get wishy-washy or fat.

    Gigolo Edna Ferber
  • I always held you as a wishy-washy bourgeois and now you go and pull this thing off.

    Moral Ludwig Thoma
  • You will find nothing negative or wishy-washy in the Great Book.

    The Victorious Attitude Orison Swett Marden
  • He is like an over-shot mill, one everlastin' wishy-washy stream.'

    The Attache Thomas Chandler Haliburton
  • Modern paper-hangings are too superficial and wishy-washy for the purpose.

  • It was the most wishy-washy concoction that was ever put on paper.

    Dixie Hart Will N. Harben
  • None of the wishy-washy tittle-tattle interested me, in fact.

    Hearts and Masks

    Harold MacGrath
  • I should think that Mr. Reed would have about as much respect for a namby-pamby novel as he has for a wishy-washy politician.

British Dictionary definitions for wishy-washy


adjective (informal)
lacking in substance, force, colour, etc
watery; thin
Derived Forms
wishy-washily, adverb
wishy-washiness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wishy-washy

1690s, "feeble or poor in quality," reduplication of washy "thin, watery" (see wash (n.)). Meaning "vacillating" first recorded 1873.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for wishy-washy



Marked by imprecision and vacillation; inconstant; uncertain: The wishy-washy player keeps putting off the evil day/ It's not overpowering like Opium and not wishy-washy

[1873+; fr a rhythmic reduplication of washy, ''weak, diluted, watered-down,'' probably influenced by wishy as suggesting vacillating desires; the original sense was ''weak, insubstantial, trashy,'' found by 1703]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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