[ nam-bee-pam-bee ]
See synonyms for namby-pamby on
  1. without firm methods or policy; weak or indecisive: namby-pamby handling of juvenile offenders.

  2. lacking in character, directness, or moral or emotional strength: namby-pamby writing.

  1. weakly sentimental, pretentious, or affected; insipid.

noun,plural nam·by-pam·bies for 4.
  1. a namby-pamby person: written by and for namby-pambies.

  2. namby-pamby sentiment: the harmless namby-pamby of a birthday card.

  1. namby-pamby verse or prose.

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

Other words from namby-pamby

  • nam·by-pam·bi·ness, nam·by-pam·by·ism, noun
  • nam·by-pam·by·ish, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

British Dictionary definitions for namby-pamby


/ (ˌnæmbɪˈpæmbɪ) /

  1. sentimental or prim in a weak insipid way: namby-pamby manners

  2. clinging, feeble, or spineless: a namby-pamby child

nounplural -bies
  1. a person who is namby-pamby

Origin of 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