Open main menu




From Middle French pusillanimité, from the ecclesiastical Latin pusillanimis, from pusillus (puny) + animus (spirit) + -ous. A translation of the Greek ὀλιγόψυχος (oligópsukhos, faint-hearted).


pusillanimity (countable and uncountable, plural pusillanimities)

  1. The quality or state of being pusillanimous; the vice of being timid and cowardly, and thus not living up to one's full potential; pusillanimousness.
    • 1685. Dr. Michael de Molinos: The Spiritual Guide which Disentangles the Soul, and Brings it by the Inward Way To The Getting of Perfect Contemplation and the Rich Treasure of Internal Peace, CHAP. XVIII: [1].
      132. And although thou often fallest, and seest thy Pusillanimity, and endeavour to get courage, and afflict not thy self; because what God doth not do in forty Years, he sometimes doth in an instant, with a particular Mystery, that we may live low and humble, and know that ‘tis the Work of his powerful Hand, to free us from Sins.
    • 1872, Henry James, "Guest's Confession" in The Atlantic Monthly October 1872.
      What I did through indolence and in some degree, I confess, through pusillanimity, I had a fancy to make it appear (by dint of much whistling, as it were, and easy thrusting of my hands into my pocket) that I did through a sort of generous condescension.

Related termsEdit