[wish-ee-wosh-ee, -waw-shee]


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 formswish·y-wash·i·ly, adverbwish·y-wash·i·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wishy-washy

Contemporary Examples of wishy-washy

Historical Examples of wishy-washy

  • You're not the kind of blonde who'll get wishy-washy or fat.


    Edna Ferber

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


    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.

British Dictionary definitions for wishy-washy


adjective informal

lacking in substance, force, colour, etc
watery; thin
Derived Formswishy-washily, adverbwishy-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

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