Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Weak, sentimental, or unrealistic.
  • adjective Lacking vigor or decisiveness; weak or spineless.
  • noun One that is weak, sentimental, or indecisive.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To treat sentimentally; coddle.
  • noun Silly verse; weakly sentimental writing or talk.
  • Weakly sentimental; affectedly nice; insipid; vapid: as, namby-pamby rimes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Affectedly pretty; weakly sentimental; finical; insipid.
  • adjective Indecisive or weak; lacking firmness or resolve; -- of actions and policies.
  • noun Talk or writing which is weakly sentimental or affectedly pretty.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Insipid and sentimental
  • adjective Lacking vigor or decisiveness; spineless; wishy-washy
  • noun One that is insipid, sentimental, or weak.

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

  • adjective weak in willpower, courage or vitality
  • noun an insipid weakling who is foolishly sentimental

Etymologies

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

[After Namby-Pamby, a satire on the poetry of Ambrose Philips (1674–1749) by Henry Carey (1687?–1743).]

Examples

Comments

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  • Origin: 1726; rhyming compound based on the first syll. of Ambrose Philips; first used as a nickname for Philips in the title of a poem by Henry Carey (1687?–1743) ridiculing his verse

    October 26, 2007

  • Vexamples suggest it's a favoured epithet in fascist diatribe.

    November 26, 2009