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

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

Examples from the Web for pusillanimously

Historical Examples of pusillanimously

  • Isabel has confessed nothing to you, and I know by your lies to me how pusillanimously you must have been lying to her.

    Bylow Hill

    George Washington Cable

  • I say nothing about the political bear-garden—I fear I pusillanimously keep out of it.

  • As I kept deafly and pusillanimously to my room, I am far from sure what happened during the remainder of the night.

    Sonia Married

    Stephen McKenna

  • However, in spite of their opinion, I pusillanimously decided to hold off for a fortnight, and then fire without notice.

    From Chart House to Bush Hut

    Charles W. L. Bryde

  • They have pusillanimously abandoned the remnant of La Romana's army in order not to delay its retreat a single half day.

British Dictionary definitions for pusillanimously


  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 pusillanimously



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