[ wish-ee-wosh-ee, -waw-shee ]
/ ˈwɪʃ iˌwɒʃ i, -ˌwɔ ʃi /


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

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British Dictionary definitions for wishy-washy


/ (ˈwɪʃɪˌwɒʃɪ) /

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