You can use the word pantywaist to talk about an ineffective, weak person — especially a man — although it's not very nice and is likely to hurt his feelings.

The noun pantywaist has proven to be more enduring in its figurative meaning — an ineffectual or childish man — than in its original meaning, which was a garment of early 20th century vintage: short pants fastened to a waist band, worn by children. Still, the term is somewhat old fashioned, and calling a timid man a pantywaist these days would not only be unkind, but might also be confusing.

Definitions of pantywaist
  1. noun
    a timid man or boy considered childish or unassertive
    synonyms: Milquetoast, milksop, pansy, sissy
    see moresee less
    type of:
    a person who shows fear or timidity
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week