- weakly sentimental; insipid
- without vigor
Origin of namby-pambyorigin, originally satirical nickname of Ambrose Philips, 18th-c. Eng poet: in ridicule of his sentimental pastorals
- namby-pamby talk
- pl. -·bies a namby-pamby person
- Weak, sentimental, or unrealistic: “life as it was really lived, you know, not as described in namby-pamby self-help books” (Megan Hustad).
- Lacking vigor or decisiveness; weak or spineless: accused by conservatives of being a namby-pamby liberal.
Origin of namby-pambyAfter Namby-Pamby, a satire on the poetry of Ambrose Philips (1674–1749) by Henry Carey (1687?–1743). Word History: Today, the 18th-century poet Ambrose Philips is more well-known for sharp satirical attacks leveled against him by his contemporaries Henry Carey and Alexander Pope than for any lines of poetry that he ever wrote himself. In lampooning some overly precious verse on the subject of children that Philips had composed, Carey called Philips by the nickname Namby Pamby: “So the Nurses get by Heart Namby Pamby's Little Rhimes.” The first part of Namby Pamby came from Amby, or Ambrose. Pamby was made to rhyme with Namby by using the initial of Philips's surname. Pope then used the name in the 1729 edition of his satirical epic The Dunciad. After being popularized by Pope, namby-pamby went on to be used generally for people or things that are sentimental or weak.
(comparative more namby-pamby, superlative most namby-pamby)
- Insipid and sentimental.
- Lacking vigor or decisiveness; spineless; wishy-washy.
- One who is insipid, sentimental, or weak.
- Talk or writing which is weakly sentimental or affectedly pretty.
From the nickname of the poet Ambrose Phillips, coined by Henry Carey in 1726.