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Monday, 14 January 2013


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Your word for today is: niminy-piminy, adj.

niminy-piminy, adj.

[‘Mincing, affected; without force, drive, or spirit.’]

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌnɪmᵻnɪˈpɪmᵻni/,  U.S. /ˈnɪmᵻniˈpɪmᵻni/

Forms:  17–18 nimini-pimini,   18 nimeny-pimeny,   18– niminy-piminy.

Etymology:Imitative of affected speech (see quot. 17861 at main sense), perhaps after namby-pamby adj. Compare miminy-piminy adj. and perhaps also mimp n. and adj.

  Mincing, affected; without force, drive, or spirit.

Quots. 17861 may show use as an interjection.

1786  J. Burgoyne Heiress iii ii. 55 Lady Emily... You have only, when before your glass, to keep pronouncing to yourself nimini-primini. Miss Alscrip. Nimini-pimini-imini, mimini—oh, it's delightfully enfantine.

1786  G White Let. 25 Mar. in  R. Holt-White Life & Lett. G. White (1901) II. 154, I hope you practice every day at your Glass; and that you are by this time perfect mistress of ‘Nimini pimini’.

1801 Monthly Rev. 35 324 With..a smirking countenance, and ‘nimeny pimeny’ lisp.

1822  L. Hunt Indicator No. 23 I. 178 To see her proud, affected, niminy-piminy face in.

1830  J. Jekyll Corr. (1894) 221 an exquisite, her husband a nimini pimini gentleman.

1840  Thackeray in Fraser's Mag. July 115/2 But was there ever such a niminypiminy subject treated in such a niminypiminy way?

a1894  R. L. Stevenson St. Ives (1898) xxv. 190 A niminy-piminy creature, afraid of a petticoat and a bottle.

1945  R. Hargreaves Enemy at Gate 45 That niminy-piminy, shallow, self-conscious intellectualism.

1985  R. Davies What's bred in Bone (1986) v. 300 Parents are terribly niminy-piminy about telling their children these things.


†niminy-pimininess n. Obs. rare

1884  W. C. Hazlitt Offspring Thought 56 There was no Niminy-pimininess about Johnson... He always said what he thought.

†niminy-piminyism n. Obs. rare

1840 Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. 48 833 Such a pitiful piece of niminy-piminyism.

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