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

  • adj. Informal Thin and watery, as tea or soup; insipid.
  • adj. Informal Lacking in strength of character or purpose; ineffective.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Wavering; lacking in commitment, certainty, or support; namby-pamby.
  • adj. Thin or watery.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Thin and pale; weak; without strength or substance; -- originally said of liquids. Fig., weak-minded; spiritless.
  • n. A weak or thin drink or liquor; wish-wash.

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

  • adj. weak in willpower, courage or vitality


Reduplication of washy, thin, watery, from wash.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



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  • The condition of a filthy person when self-conscious.

    October 10, 2008

  • I had imagined this to be an Americanism, but I was wrong. The oldest sense (1693) referred to watery. "Newfangled" sense of vacillating evidently was recorded in 1873. It was part of my parent's vocabulary.

    July 2, 2007

  • I'm sure I came across this one in the Charlie Brown (Peanuts) cartoons.

    July 2, 2007

  • just taught this to my students today. they got a good chuckle out of it.

    February 28, 2007