Etymology: < mawk n. + -ish suffix1.1.a. Inclined to sickness, feeling sick, queasy; without appetite; faint. In later use Eng. regional.
b. Having no taste or inclination for a specified action. rare.
2. Nauseating; having a nauseating or disgusting taste or smell. Also in later use: tasting sickly or insipid.
3. fig. Imbued with sickly, false, or feeble sentiment; overly sentimental.
4. slang. [See discussion above.] Slatternly. Obs. rare—0. (OED)
"Nor does the paradox and danger of this situation fail to interest and perplex the best conscience of the South. Deeply religious and intensely democratic as are the mass of the whites, they feel acutely the false position in which the Negro problems place them. Such an essentially honest-hearted and generous people cannot cite the caste-levelling precepts of Christianity, or believe in equality of opportunity for all men, without coming to feel more and more with each generation that the present drawing of the color-line is a flat contradiction to their beliefs and professions. But just as often as they come to this point, the present social condition of the Negro stands as a menace and a portent before even the most open-minded: if there were nothing to charge against the Negro but his blackness or other physical peculiarities, they argue, the problem would be comparatively simple; but what can we say to his ignorance, shiftlessness, poverty, and crime? can a self-respecting group hold anything but the least possible fellowship with such persons and survive? and shall we let a mawkish sentiment sweep away the culture of our fathers or the hope of our children?"
- W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903