AskDefine | Define pusillanimous

Dictionary Definition

pusillanimous adj : lacking in courage and manly strength and resolution; contemptibly fearful [syn: poor-spirited, unmanly]

User Contributed Dictionary



Derived from pusillus ("very small") + animus ("spirit")


  • /pjuːsɪlˈænɪmʊs/ or /pjuːsəlˈænəmʊs/
  • Rhymes with: -ænɪmʊs


  1. Showing ignoble cowardice, or contemptible timidity
The soldier deserted his troop in a pusillanimous manner.


  • 1882 — Mark Twain, On the Decay of the Art of Lying
    Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling.


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