MooT Question Icon
What hyphenated word meaning "weakly sentimental" was coined to describe the poetry of Ambrose Philips?




Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
as well as grammar, usage, euphemism, slang, jargon, semantics, linguistics, neologism, idiom, cant, and argot.


A picture of a moot game

The critically-acclaimed board game MooT
consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
To join our mailing list and get
free brain-twisting MooT questions sent to you irregularly,
enter your email address and then press submit.

E-Mail address:




Back to home page



Answer: namby-pamby

Literature, especially poetry, that is insipidly pretty or sentimental is namby-pamby.

The word was coined from the name of the poet Ambrose Philips (died 1749), who wrote yuckily sentimental pastoral poetry that was ridiculed by fellow poets Henry Carey and Alexander Pope.

The first OED citation for the word is by Carey from his 1726 poem Namby Pamby - "So the Nurses get by Heart Namby Pamby's Little Rhimes."

Note that this poem was such a successful demolition of Philips that Carey himself became known as Namby Pamby Carey and Philips became known as Namby Pamby.

Feedback


Equally efficient demolition of visual artists and their following of culture vultures: artsy-fartsy. When did that phrase first appear, I wonder? I would guess the 60's, but probably earlier.

[Mootguy: The first OED citation for artsy-fartsy is from 1971.]
slundgren at warnerpacific.edu
______________________________________________________________

I know, Mr. Moot, that you are a busy guy and rattle these things off in your spare time, but just a little note on your punctuation: "Yuckilly" (by the way, I think there's only one "l")should have no comma after it, since it modifies "sentimental." Now take that comma and re-insert it before "who wrote...," which requires one, being a non-defining clause. Sorry to be such a stickler, but this being a language column and all...

[Mootguy: Changes made. Thanks for the feedback. I was focused on my email problems this week.]
jacko at lycos.com
______________________________________________________________

Copyright 1998-2009 Blair Arts Ltd. All rights reserved.