tr.v. pam·pered, pam·per·ing, pam·pers
1. To treat with excessive indulgence: pampered their child.
2. To give in to; gratify: He pampered his ambition for wealth and fame.
3. Archaic To indulge with rich food; glut.
[Middle English pamperen, probably of Low German origin.]
Synonyms: pamper, indulge, humor, spoil, coddle, mollycoddle, baby
These verbs all mean to cater excessively to someone or to someone's desires or feelings. To pamper is to gratify appetites, tastes, or desires: “tempting stores of everything to stimulate and pamper the sated appetite and give new relish to the oft-repeated feast” (Charles Dickens).
Indulge suggests a kindly or excessive lenience in yielding especially to wishes or impulses better left unfulfilled: “You mustn't think because I indulge you in some things that you can keep everyone waiting” (Theodore Dreiser).
Humor implies compliance with or accommodation to another's mood or idiosyncrasies: “Human life is ... but like a froward child, that must be played with and humored a little to keep it quiet till it falls asleep” (William Temple).
Spoil implies excessive indulgence that adversely affects the character, nature, or attitude: “My pupil was a lively child, who had been spoiled and indulged, and, therefore, was sometimes wayward” (Charlotte Brontë).
Coddle and mollycoddle point to tender, overprotective care that often leads to weakening of character: “The two or three times a week she was home, she coddled Lisette, painting her toenails and rubbing rose-scented lotion into her legs” (Erin McGraw). “His mother mollycoddled the boy, combed and curled his hair, trimmed and tidied his clothes” (Patrick MacGill).
Baby suggests the indulgence and attention one might give to an infant: “Though he was grown, she still babied him, kept his school pictures taped to her refrigerator, still bought his clothes on sale, still saved money for him” (Louise Erdrich).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
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