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Origin of pusillanimous

1580–90; < Late Latin pusillanimis petty-spirited, equivalent to Latin pusill(us) very small, petty + -anim(is) -spirited, -minded (anim(us) spirit + -is adj. suffix); see -ous
Related formspu·sil·lan·i·mous·ly, adverb

Synonyms for pusillanimous

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for pusillanimous

afraid, chicken, cowardly, gutless, tame, timid, timorous

Examples from the Web for pusillanimous

Contemporary Examples of pusillanimous

  • But on this issue of Haredi service his pusillanimous silence has been disappointing and self-defeating.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Get Creative For Yossi Falafel

    Gil Troy

    July 17, 2012

Historical Examples of pusillanimous

British Dictionary definitions for pusillanimous


  1. characterized by a lack of courage or determination
Derived Formspusillanimity (ˌpjuːsɪləˈnɪmɪtɪ), nounpusillanimously, adverb

Word Origin for pusillanimous

C16: from Late Latin pusillanimis from Latin pusillus weak + animus courage
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

Word Origin and History for pusillanimous

early 15c., from Late Latin pusillanimis "having little courage" (used in Church Latin to translate Greek oligopsychos "small-souled"), from Latin pusillis "very weak, little" (diminutive of pullus "young animal;" see foal (n.)) + animus "spirit, courage" (see animus). Related: Pusillanimously; pusillanimousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper