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A.Word.A.Day--niminy-piminy

Pronunciation RealAudio

niminy-piminy (NIM-uh-nee PIM-uh-nee) adjective

Affectedly delicate or refined.

[Origin uncertain; probably alteration of namby-pamby.]

We do know where the term namby-pamby came from - from the name of poet Ambrose Philips (1674-1749). His contemporary literary rivals, poets Henry Carey, John Gay, Alexander Pope, and Jonathan Swift poked fun at him and Carey coined namby-pamby from his name: amby after first syllable of Ambrose and rhyming compound pamby after Philips.

See more usage examples of niminy-piminy in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

"'I detest rude, unladylike girls!' 'I hate affected, niminy-piminy chits!'" Louisa May Alcott; Little Women; 1868.

"'We have far too much niminy-piminy music,' wrote W.R. Anderson in The Gramophone; music 'afraid to let itself go, or having nowhere to go if it did'." Geoff Brown; Classical Collector; The Times (London, UK); Mar 21, 2000.

This week's theme: reduplicatives.

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