Wishy-washy

TGW

Senior Member
Chinese
When people are not determined or resolute, we use 'wishy-washy' to describe them. I'm not sure if it's synonyms 'shilly-shally' namby-pamby , 'dilly-dally' are also commonly used.
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Those aren't synonyms, TGW, and I don't really agree with your definition of "wishy-washy". I don't see it used it to describe a person, but someone might have wishy-washy ideas.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Namby pamby and wishy washy are epithets I don't encounter very frequently, but they are used.

    The other two are even less common. (I think in linguistic terms these forms are called ablaut reduplications.)

    Google Ngram Viewer
     

    TGW

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Those aren't synonyms, TGW, and I don't really agree with your definition of "wishy-washy". I don't see it used it to describe a person, but someone might have wishy-washy ideas.
    Many thanks. I guess it might be a BE/AE thing. I just found many sentences in New York Times, in which they use wishy-washy to discribe people who always change their mind. I guess these sentences below are all correct, aren't they?
    He has wishy-washy ideas:tick:
    He is wishy-washy (by nature):tick:
    He is wishy-washy on this issue:tick:
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Possibly. It's a long time since I've seen it.

    But more likely it's because it's alliterative, sounds vaguely oriental to Western ears, and it's a name children will find amusing.
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    "Shilly-shally" is a verb, meaning to be indecisive ("Shall I...?").
    "Dilly-dally" is also a verb, meaning to move or act slowly when you should be hurrying.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Wishy washy in American English describes someone who is indecisive.

    These make sense:
    He is wishy-washy (by nature):tick:
    He is wishy-washy on this issue:tick:

    I'm not sure about this one:
    He has wishy-washy ideas:tick:

    Switching between ideas is what makes him wishy washy.
     
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