Definitions

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

  • n. One who has a meek, timid, unassertive nature.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Meek, timid.
  • n. A person of meek or timid disposition.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a timid, unassertive man or boy fearful of confrontation and easily manipulated and dominated.

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

  • n. a timid man or boy considered childish or unassertive

Etymologies

After Caspar Milquetoast, a comic-strip character created by Harold Tucker Webster (1885-1952).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the character Caspar Milquetoast of the comic strip The Timid Soul, created by Harold Webster and first published in 1924 (named after the American dish milk toast). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Real quick, Wolf, you know, some social conservatives are not happy about John McCain's statement on the California gay marriage ruling, because in essence, it came out as just kind of what they call a milquetoast (ph), some sort of just generic statement rather than really taking the issue as one about judges and one about marriage and taking control and being more forceful in that area.

    CNN Transcript May 27, 2008

  • If McGavick can't even get me excited about him being Senator, he is toast. toast as in "milquetoast".

    Sound Politics: Senate Race Needs One More Ingredient

  • Reaganaut gives us a good perspective into the right wing mythology (FDR was a conservative, Charles Lindburgh was a liberal, Bush is not a limp wristed milquetoast from the East with a fake drawl, supporting our troops means getting them killed, anyone who disagrees hates America, etc).

    Think Progress » $70,500.

  • Feeling toasty: Kudos (in the piece about the Ghost Riderz scooter gang) for using the word milquetoast in a sentence.

    pjstar.com Home RSS

  • Obviously a "bipartisan" (aka milquetoast) bill isn't going to work.

    Obama Edging Into More Active Role On Crisis

  • A milquetoast is a weak, ineffectual or bland person.

    Latest Articles

  • McCain's candidacy until now could've only been described as milquetoast, but it's quickly become clear that both parties are geared up for the big sprint ahead.

    owl and bear

  • This kind of milquetoast ambivalence that we're seeing on display about what exactly it is that NASA is going to be doing in their human spaceflight efforts is why I don't ever bother going to the NASA 'big program' presentations at space conferences.

    A Shift in Policy? Moon Base Axed? - NASA Watch

  • This isn't necessarily the same kind of "milquetoast" behavior that caused Kerry and Gore to almost-but-not-quite make it.

    CT-05: Murphy Rebuffs DCCC Calls For Negative Ads: "I Want To Sleep At Night"

  • She wrote him off as a "milquetoast", but softened her criticism by stating that "even the worst Republican is better than any Democrat".

    Eric Williams: Right Like Me

Comments

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  • Gosh, I love wordie. Every time I come back, I learn somethng new. :)

    January 27, 2013

  • I wouldn't be surprised to find that the Watford library photocopier repair bill Emergency Action Commitee meeting planner assistant was a milquetoast

    January 27, 2013

  • Watford library photocopier repair bill Emergency Action Commitee meeting planner assistant

    January 27, 2013

  • In that example it's a simple noun stack where milquetoast fills the slot of modifier. You can do this with any old English noun. In fact you can keep stacking and modifying to your heart's content, even with proper nouns:
    photocopier
    library photocopier
    Watford library photocopier
    etc.
    Even the ultimate noun (the head) can become a modifier if you have another noun to take its place:
    Watford library photocopier repair
    Watford library photocopier repair bill

    In summary, milquetoast is a noun but like other nouns it can function as a modifier.

    January 27, 2013

  • The early 20th century referred to Caspar Milquetoast a lot. http://goo.gl/OjP0g
    I haven't heard this term in Canada, so this would be an Americanism.

    Here's the adjective use
    "In The Kid from Brooklyn he plays Burleigh Sullivan, a Milquetoast milkman who accidentally knocks out a boxing champion and becomes a prizefighter in spite of the fact that he has hardly the strength to lick a postage stamp."

    January 27, 2013

  • I can't provide a grammar critique of thin air so please cite one/some of these claimed adjectival usages here and let's have a look.

    January 27, 2013

  • Often see this word used as an adjective, but most dictionaries only consider it a noun. How proper is the adjective use?

    January 26, 2013

  • Temporary Tattoos for Wimps.

    June 25, 2009

  • Casper first appeared in a cartoon entitled (appropriately enough) The Friendly Ghost, based on an unpublished story written by Seymour V. Reit

    February 3, 2007

  • Usage other than the foodstuff originated from the comic strip character created by Harold Webster, Casper Milquetoast

    February 3, 2007