nanny state


overprotective government

TRANSLATION

nanny state = Kindermädchen-Staat, Vormundschaftsstaat, Bevormundungsstaat [über Bürger bestimmend], überfürsorglicher Staat; Verbotskultur

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“Forget the NANNY STATE, here comes the nanny employer - Companies are increasingly offering ‘wellness’ programmes for employees – but there is a thin line between helpful and intrusive.”

Arwa Mahdawi - The Guardian (7 January 2020)


“Toying with the NANNY STATE - California’s approach to gendered toys says a lot about the state’s political direction.”

Economist headline (23 October 2021)

Did you
know?

nanny state
noun phrase (disapproving)

- the government regarded as overprotective or as interfering unduly with personal choice

- a government perceived as having excessive interest in or control over the welfare of its citizens, especially in the enforcement of extensive public health and safety regulations

Oxford Languages / The Free Dictionary


PHRASE ORIGIN

The term “nanny state” likens government to the role that a nanny has in child rearing and conveys a view that a government or its policies are overprotective or interfering with personal freedom.

The term was first coined by the U.S. journalist Dorothy Thompson in her column 'On the Record', published in several U.S. and Canadian newspapers in June 1952:

“… with the retreat of empire, Britons are turning Britain itself into a Nanny-state, perhaps out of long habit in persuading or coercing natives to do what is good for them.”

In May 2015, Canadian journalist and magazine publisher Tyler Brûlé argued that Australian cities were becoming over-sanitised and the country was on the verge of becoming the world’s dumbest nation. This was blamed on the removal of personal responsibility and the increase in the number and scope of health and safety laws. The term has also been used to criticise mandatory bicycle helmet laws, gun control laws, prohibitions on alcohol in public places, plain packaging for cigarettes and pub/club lockout laws.


SECURE IN SINGAPORE

The city state of Singapore has long had a reputation as being a “nanny state”, owing to the considerable number of government regulations and restrictions on its citizens’ lives. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of the modern Singapore, said in a Straits Times interview in 1987:

“If Singapore is a nanny state, then I am proud to have fostered one. I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yes, if I not done that, we wouldn’t be here today. And I say without the slightest remorse, that we wouldn’t be here, we would not have made economic progress, if we had not intervened on very personal matters – who your neighbour is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think.”


SYNONYMS

- to be overprotective towards

baby, cocoon, coddle, cosset, cotton, cradle, dandle, do everything for, feather-bed, fuss over, give a knee ride, kill with kindness, lamb, make a fuss of (over), mollycoddle, mother, nanny, nursemaid, overparent, overprotect, pamper, protect, ride on knee, spare the rod, spoil, spoil rotten, spoon-feed, treat gently, wait on hand and foot, wet-nurse, wrap(-up) in cotton wool


SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“Is the proliferation of public health signs indicative of society becoming a NANNY STATE?”


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