I was watching this video, and one of the characters stated that they "weren't one of those beltway pansies". Previously, he'd said that he didn't go to an Ivy League school. Is this a common term that one could use in conversation and others would understand, or is it an uncommon term? I tried to find a definition of the term, but "beltway" seems to be defined as "a highway encircling an urban area". This made me think that this phrase is idiomatic, but I wasn't sure if it was commonly used or not since I'd never heard it in any of the other media I'd consumed, nor had I ever heard it in conversation.

1 Answer 1


There's an error subtitles: it should be "Beltway pansies" not "beltway pansies."

The important difference is that this "Beltway" refers to a specific beltway, The Capital Beltway. It's a metonym meaning Washington D.C. (which the Captal Beltway encircles).


2 capitalized : the political and social world of Washington, D.C., viewed especially as insular and exclusive
// understanding better than Beltway insiders what really interests voters


A pansy (not asked about, but probably useful to other learners) can either be a homophobic slur, or a more general insult about a lack of manliness (as Andy Bonner points out, there's an obvious overlap there: the out-and-out bigots and the more generally unhip often confusing gender non-conformance with homosexuality).


2a offensive : a weak or effeminate man or boy —used as a term of abuse and disparagement
b offensive : a gay man —used as a term of abuse and disparagement


Beltway pansy is not a set phrase. It's a one-off phrase that simply combines two epithets: pansies of the Beltway.

The context, for those who don't want to or can't watch that video, is a scene from a translated Japanese video game, wherein a cartoonishly large villain, apparently a US senator, but looking more like a professional wrestler (not Jesse Ventura), taunts the hero and warns him: unlike my senatorial colleagues, I am not a wimp.

  • I don't expect to meet pansies or wimps working in DC, whether for the federal government or not. Plenty of useful, efficient and hardworking people work there, and without them the country would have a hard time functioning. I am thinking more of salaried employees than elected officials. Maybe you meant 'The speaker is simply referring to the kinds of 'pansies' or 'wimps' he thinks work in D.C.' Also isn't 'pansy' an intolerant and homophobic term for an 'effeminate' acting gay man? I suppose this could be a kind of redneck or blue-collar inverted snobbery. Apr 28, 2022 at 21:55
  • This answer could benefit by also addressing the usage of "pansy." @MichaelHarvey See this M-W entry, which includes both a homophobic and a simply "effeminate" usage (though the societal forces involved make the Venn diagram complicated indeed). Apr 28, 2022 at 22:09
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    @MichaelHarvey, 1) this specific context is a cartoon caricature and a translation of a Japanese script, so don't expect any particular poignant critique. 2) "pansy" is often used in a sense that doesn't imply anything about sexual orientation, just general womanliness (in a negative sense) 3) I do not share the unfortunately pervasive negative view of government workers - my mother worked her whole life in the federal government. I'm well aware of their dedication, effectiveness and utility. The "you'd expect" was just sloppy writing and worth an edit.
    – Juhasz
    Apr 28, 2022 at 22:12
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    We call a beltway a ring road in British English. Apr 29, 2022 at 8:38
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    It's common to use homophobic slurs as general insults of someone's manliness, so there's lots of overlap: pansie, sissy, (British) poofter. It's rarely intended literally.
    – Barmar
    Apr 29, 2022 at 14:42

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