A namby-pamby is a weak, insipid, spineless person. The expression first appears in 1725 as the title of a poem by Henry Carey (1687-1743). In this poem, Carey coined Namby Pamby as the satirical nickname for the politically well-connected poet, Ambrose Philips (1674-1749). Namby was a play on the name Ambrose and Pamby was added arbitrarily as a rhyming jingle. Besides Carey, other contemporary writers including Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope also targeted the unfortunate Ambrose Philips whose work, in their opinion, was very insipid. Before the end of the 18th century, the name and the criticism had stuck, and by 1774, according to the OED, namby-pamby had passed into the language and was used to describe anything that was weakly sentimental or insipid.