Printable Version
Pronunciation: mah-li-kah-dêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive, Noun

Meaning: 1. [Verb] To pamper, to coddle, to treat in an overly protective way, as you would a child. 2. [Noun] An effeminate man or boy.

Notes: Which is preferable: to overindulge, to spoil, to pamper, to coddle, or mollycoddle someone? To pamper someone is to give them everything they want, especially luxury items. To overindulge means to allow them to have their way more than is advisable. To spoil means to pamper someone to the point that it harms their character, while to coddle or mollycoddle means to treat someone as a child, to overprotect them.

In Play: Here is a playful word that you can use liberally around the house: "Stop mollycoddling that son of yours and make him do some housework this weekend." I hope she doesn't turn around and say, "Should I stop mollycoddling you and expect the same from you?" Don't leave the noun mollycoddle behind: "I like Curly Hair but I'm not sure a mollycoddle like him would help our rugby team much."

Word History: This funny word is actually a compound noun based on molly "an effeminate man" plus coddle "to undercook; to be slack on discipline". Molly was originally a nickname for Mary but, like the nickname for John, Jack, it soon took on a life of its own. Applying Molly to a man implies femininity, just as does the diminutive of sister, sissy. Coddle means "cook an egg in water without boiling it," hence undercooking it. From this sense of "undercooking" to underdoing discipline is but a very short hop.

Dr. Goodword,

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