What Does Namby Pamby Mean?

Namby Pamby Meaning

Definition: Without strength or courage; childishly sentimental; effeminate in behavior or expression.

Another version of this term is mamby pamby.

Origin of Namby Pamby

The first use of this expression was in the year 1725. It came from the title of a poem making fun of the works of Ambrose Phillips. Namby Pamby was a nickname for that author.

In 1725, Henry Carey was the first to put it in print.

All ye poets of the age,

All ye witlings of the stage …

Namby-Pamby is your guide,

Albion’s joy, Hibernia’s pride.

Namby-Pamby, pilly-piss,

Rhimy-pim’d on Missy Miss

Tartaretta Tartaree

From the navel to the knee;

That her father’s gracy grace

Might give him a placy place.

Examples of Namby Pamby

define namby pambyThis example dialogue involves a husband and wife who are discussing possible new careers.

Bobby: I think I might be interested in a new career as well.

Jennie: Really?

Bobby: Yeah. Maybe instead of being a manager I’ll become an artist.

Jennie: But you’re a terrible artist.

Bobby: Then maybe I’ll be a lawyer, or perhaps a singer!

Jennie: Well, if you’re going to change careers, you’ll have to decide what you want to do. You can’t be so namby pamby.

Bobby: Hey! I’m still in the initial stages of my decision. There’s no rush.

definition of namby pambyOne friend is making fun of another for being afraid of bugs.

Andrew: Andrew! Get in here, quick!

Aaron: Wait, I’ll be there in a minute. I’m busy with something else right now.

Andrew: No! Come quick! It’s an emergency! Help! Help! I’m being attacked!

Aaron: What’s wrong? I’m here! Who’s attacking you?

Andrew: It’s a cockroach! Look! It’s over there, under the table.

Aaron: And? What about the cockroach? Where is the person who attacked you?

Andrew: What person? It was the cockroach that was attacking me. It came right at me! Kill it! I’m terrified of cockroaches!

Aaron: Are you kidding me? You are such a namby pamby! Just stomp on it.

Andrew: What if it flies at me?

Aaron: It can’t hurt you. It literally would be impossible for it to hurt you.

Andrew: They are gross!

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about the best TV series of the year 2016.

  • Seldom has righteous anger and a take-no-prisoners approach combined for better results. Unlike more namby-pamby comedians, Bee does not alter her act for universal appeal. But for those who came to love her, Full Frontal was the best thing to come out of this election season. –USA Today

The second excerpt is a quote encouraging a more extreme version of a religion.

Many current church leaders are “namby-pamby,” Voris said. “It’s all about ‘love your neighbor.’ “

What’s needed instead, he said, is a muscular Catholicism that isn’t afraid to encourage battle and sacrifice.

“Sometimes, you have to provocative,” Brammer said. –USA Today


The term namby pamby is a derogatory term for someone who is weak or can’t stick to a decision.