Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Lacking courage; cowardly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Showing ignoble cowardice, or contemptible timidity

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Destitute of a manly or courageous strength and firmness of mind; of weak spirit; mean-spirited; spiritless; cowardly; -- said of persons, .
  • adj. Evincing, or characterized by, weakness of mind, and want of courage; feeble.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Lacking strength and firmness of mind; wanting in courage and fortitude; being of weak courage; faint-hearted; mean-spirited; cowardly.
  • Proceeding from lack of courage; indicating timidity.
  • Synonyms Poltroon, Dastard, etc. See coward.
  • 1 and
  • Weak, feeble, timorous, spiritless, effeminate, dastardly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. lacking in courage and manly strength and resolution; contemptibly fearful

Etymologies

Middle English pusillanimus, from Late Latin pusillanimis : Latin pusillus, weak, diminutive of pullus, young of an animal; see pau-1 in Indo-European roots + animus, reason, mind; see anə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Derived from Latin pusillus ("very small") + animus ("spirit"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Meral Ece a Liberal Coucillor is worrying in pusillanimous Liberal way about gun crime in the Gazette.

    Archive 2007-05-06

  • ... is worrying in pusillanimous Liberal way about gun crime in the Gazette ...

    The Liberal Answer To Gun Crime

  • We have been laborious, contented, and prosperous; and if we have been reabsorbed by the mother country, in accordance with what I cannot but call the pusillanimous conduct of certain of our elder

    The Fixed Period

  • Moderator, I withdraw the 'pusillanimous' barb unreservedly.

    Gordon Brown, Charlie Whelan and Me

  • Wow, I haven't heard the word "pusillanimous" since the last time I watched "The Wizard of Oz"!

    took a ride on the reading

  • At least real conservatives stick by their guns, but you're the worst kind of pusillanimous, wobbling imbeciles.

    took a ride on the reading

  • PS I was in a play once where I used the word "pusillanimous".

    Pusillanimous

  • It must have been great to say the 'pusillanimous' line.

    Pusillanimous

  • The United Democratic Movement on Wednesday criticised what it called SA Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni's "pusillanimous" response to the country's economic challenges, and not lowering the interest rate.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • If those are not freemen who do what they please, and are for the most part approved in what they do, who puff at all their enemies, and scorn such as pusillanimous slaves who go not forth unto the same compass of excess with them, who shall be esteemed free?

    A Treatise of the Dominion of Sin and Grace

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Comments

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  • This word was used in the book version of "Gone With The Wind" when someone was telling Scarlet about her father's former overseer.

    June 13, 2012

  • WIZARD
    Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a
    very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous
    creature that crawls on the earth -- or
    slinks through slimy seas has a brain!

    June 2, 2010

  • "It is China that has come out of the affair looking pusillanimous. Pressed by Hillary Clinton, America’s secretary of state, to chastise North Korea, in public Chinese officials avoided even mentioning the attack on the Cheonan and merely called for restraint on all sides (see article). They presumably fear jeopardising the stability of their renegade ally. But that is not just feeble, it is silly. Letting Mr Kim get away with this outrage will only tempt him to try more." http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=16216482

    May 30, 2010

  • Lily-livered.

    :)

    June 27, 2009

  • JIMMY: I looked up that word the other day. It's one of those words I've never been quite sure of, but always thought I knew.

    CLIFF: What was that?

    JIMMY: I told you—pusillanimous. Do you know what it means?

    Cliff shakes his head.

    Neither did I really. All this time, I have been married to this woman, this monument to non-attachment, and suddenly I discover that there is actually a word that sums her up. Not just an adjective in the English language to describe her with—it's her name! Pusillanimous! It sounds like some fleshy Roman matron, doesn't it? The Lady Pusillanimous seen here with her husband Sextus, on their way to the Games.

    —John Osborne, Look Back in Anger

    June 10, 2009

  • Hmmm... The Wiz.... *thinks*

    October 17, 2008

  • I always think of the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz (the movie). The Wiz uses this word on him.

    October 17, 2008

  • I believe it is. A small-ish one with little cat feet and a large feather on the top of his head.

    October 16, 2008

  • Isn't that a dinosaur of some kind?

    October 16, 2008

  • Makes me think of pussinbootsimous

    October 16, 2008

  • Shrivel and die, you pusillanimous wimp!

    -- SMAC insult given to head of U.N.

    August 20, 2008

  • I guess this is an onomatopoeia because it sounds similar to what it means.

    August 20, 2008

  • "Don't be such a pussy cat!" is how I remember this :).

    August 9, 2008

  • Lacking in courage and manly strength and resolution; contemptibly fearful.

    November 14, 2007