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[adjective ih-fem-uh-nit; verb ih-fem-uh-neyt] /adjective ɪˈfɛm ə nɪt; verb ɪˈfɛm əˌneɪt/
(of a man or boy) having traits, tastes, habits, etc., traditionally considered feminine, as softness or delicacy.
characterized by excessive softness, delicacy, self-indulgence, etc.:
effeminate luxury.
verb (used with or without object), effeminated, effeminating.
to make or become effeminate.
Origin of effeminate
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin effēminātus, equivalent to ef- ef- + fēmin(a) woman + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
effeminately, adverb
effeminateness, noun
effemination, noun
uneffeminate, adjective
uneffeminately, adverb
Can be confused
effeminate, effete, feminine, womanish, womanly (see synonym study at womanly)
1. See female. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for effeminate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I would say,” answered Charmidas, “that he was a mean-spirited, effeminate fellow.

  • "effeminate,—very," muttered the old lady, as she wiped her spectacles.

    Barrington Charles James Lever
  • The chief gods of Sidon and Tyre have nothing luxurious or effeminate about them.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies
  • The soft "r" and the hard "a" were taken as proofs of effeminate hypocrisy.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • They are very idle, gay and effeminate, and I fear that they will lead you astray.

    The Indian Fairy Book Cornelius Mathews
  • Though fair, he was not effeminate; his countenance was regular and expressive.

British Dictionary definitions for effeminate


(of a man or boy) displaying characteristics regarded as typical of a woman; not manly
lacking firmness or vigour: an effeminate piece of writing
Derived Forms
effeminacy, effeminateness, noun
effeminately, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Latin effēmināre to make into a woman, from fēmina woman
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for effeminate

early 15c., from Latin effeminatus "womanish, effeminate," past participle of effeminare "make a woman of," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + femina "woman" (see feminine). Rarely used without reproach. Related: Effeminately.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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