Pusillanimous

chicken

Credit: Lisa Ferlazzo

Pusillanimous is an adjective that’s used to describe someone who’s lacking in courage. More specifically, it’s a term that’s well suited to a person acting cowardly or chicken. If you’ve ever said something mean behind another person’s back that you couldn’t say to their face, you’ve likely been guilty of being pusillanimous yourself.

Derived from the Latin word ‘pusillis’, which means very small, pusillanimous is essentially a fancier way of calling someone a coward (allowing you to be pusillanimous and get away before they’ve worked out what you’ve said).

A person who shirks their responsibilities could be described as pusillanimous, as could someone who picks a fight and then runs away.

Synonyms of pusillanimous include cowardly, gutless, spineless, chicken, afraid and timid.

Pronunciation:
Pew-sill-anna-miss

Example of ‘pusillanimous’ used in a sentence:
The alarm rang out into the night, causing the pusillanimous thief to drop his bounty and flee into the shattered silence.

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