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namby-pamby

[ nam-bee-pam-bee ]
/ ˈnæm biˈpæm bi /
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adjective

without firm methods or policy; weak or indecisive: namby-pamby handling of juvenile offenders.
lacking in character, directness, or moral or emotional strength: namby-pamby writing.
weakly sentimental, pretentious, or affected; insipid.

noun, plural nam·by-pam·bies for 4.

a namby-pamby person: written by and for namby-pambies.
namby-pamby sentiment: the harmless namby-pamby of a birthday card.
namby-pamby verse or prose.

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Origin of namby-pamby

First recorded in 1726; rhyming compound based on the first syllable of Ambrose Philips; first used as a nickname for Philips in the title of a poem by Henry Carey (1687?–1743) ridiculing his verse
nam·by-pam·bi·ness, nam·by-pam·by·ism, nounnam·by-pam·by·ish, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for namby-pamby

namby-pamby
/ (ˌnæmbɪˈpæmbɪ) /

adjective

sentimental or prim in a weak insipid waynamby-pamby manners
clinging, feeble, or spinelessa namby-pamby child

noun plural -bies

a person who is namby-pamby
C18: a nickname of Ambrose Phillips (died 1749), whose pastoral verse was ridiculed for being insipid
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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