weak, ineffectual


namby-pamby = schwach [ohne emotionale oder moralische Stärke], verweichlicht, unentschlossen; verzärtelt —— namby-pamby boy = Muttersöhnchen



“Why real men should eat quiche Lorraine - The dish doesn’t deserve its NAMBY-PAMBY reputation.”

Josie Delap - The Economist 1843 Magazine (17 July 2019)


“What NAMBY-PAMBY Washington can learn from tough Chicago about winter”

Lonnae O’Neal - Headline in The Washington Post (21. January 2016)

Did you

adjective & noun (usually describing a person)

- lacking energy, strength, or courage; weak or ineffectual

- lacking in character or substance

Oxford Dictionaries / Merriam-Webster


The term “Namby Pamby” was coined as a nickname for the 18th‑century poet Ambrose Philips (1674-1749), and was first put in print by Henry Carey when he parodied Philips’s infantile rhyming.

Carey’s poem begins with a mock-epic opening (as had Pope’s ‘Rape of the Lock’ and ‘Dryden’s MacFlecknoe’), calling all the muses to witness the glory of Philips’s prosodic reform:

“All ye Poets of the Age!
All ye Witlings* of the Stage!
Learn your Jingles to reform!
Crop your Numbers and Conform:
Let your little Verses flow
Gently, Sweetly, Row by Row:
Let the Verse the Subject fit;
Little Subject, Little Wit.
Namby-Pamby is your Guide;
Albion’s Joy, Hibernia’s Pride.”

*witling = a person who thinks himself witty
*Albion = a literary term for Britain or England
*Hibernia = of or concerning Ireland

The poem was so successful that Carey himself began to be known as “Namby Pamby Carey” (while Philips became known as “Namby Pamby”).


- (adjective) showing or displaying weakness of character or will:

afraid (frightened) of one’s own shadow, boneless, candy-assed, characterless, chicken-hearted, chicken-livered, cowhearted, craven, dithering, drippy, faint-hearted, feeble-minded, gutless, having cold feet (the willies), hemming and hawing, lacking courage, lame, like a lamb to the slaughter, lily-livered, limp-wristed, milk-livered, milksoppish, Milquetoast, mousey, NAMBY-PAMBY, no guts, paper tiger, pigeon-hearted, running scared, sapless, simpering, sissified, sissy, sissyish, slack-spined, spineless, spiritless, timid, timorous, unassertive, weak-kneed (-minded, -willed), weedy, wet, white-livered, wimpish, wimpy, wishy-washy, without a will of your own, without guts, wussy, yellow-bellied

- (noun) a person showing or displaying weakness of character or will:

big baby, big girl’s blouse, chicken heart (liver), chinless wonder, cream puff, cry-baby, cupcake, doormat, drip, faint-heart, faint-of-heart, featherweight, fraidy-cat, gutless wonder, jellyfish, lightweight, lily (white) liver, loser, mama’s boy, milksop, milquetoast, momma’s boy, mother’s darling, mummy’s boy, NAMBY-PAMBY, paintywaist, scaredy-cat (-pants), sissy, snowflake, softie, weed, wet, wheyface, wimp, wuss, wussy, yellow-belly

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“The German translation of ‘NAMBY-PAMBY education’ says it very well, it’s ‘Kuschelpädagogik’.”

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:


Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

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