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[ih-feet] /ɪˈfit/
lacking in wholesome vigor; degenerate; decadent:
an effete, overrefined society.
exhausted of vigor or energy; worn out:
an effete political force.
unable to produce; sterile.
Origin of effete
1615-25; < Latin effēta exhausted from bearing, equivalent to ef- ef- + fēta having brought forth, feminine past participle of lost v.; see fetus
Related forms
effetely, adverb
effeteness, noun
noneffete, adjective
noneffetely, adverb
noneffeteness, noun
uneffete, adjective
uneffeteness, noun
Can be confused
effeminate, effete, feminine, womanish, womanly (see synonym study at womanly)
2. enervated, debilitated. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for effeteness
Historical Examples
  • In these things, he said, lay the greatness of America and the effeteness of England.

    American Notes Rudyard Kipling
  • The effeteness of the Mother Country is about to be put to the proof.

  • There was nothing to choose between them in the way of incompetence and effeteness.

    A History of England

    Charles Oman
  • The Church had created art, had cherished it for centuries; and now by the effeteness of her sons she was cast into a corner.

    The Cathedral Joris-Karl Huysmans
British Dictionary definitions for effeteness


weak, ineffectual, or decadent as a result of overrefinement: an effete academic
exhausted of vitality or strength; worn out; spent
(of animals or plants) no longer capable of reproduction
Derived Forms
effetely, adverb
effeteness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin effētus having produced young, hence, exhausted by bearing, from fētus having brought forth; see fetus
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 effeteness



1620s, from Latin effetus (usually in fem. effeta) "exhausted, unproductive, worn out (with bearing offspring), past bearing," literally "that has given birth," from a lost verb, *efferi, from ex- "out" (see ex-) + fetus "childbearing, offspring" (see fetus). Figurative use is earliest in English; literal use is rare. Sense of "exhausted" is 1660s; that of "intellectually or morally exhausted" (1790) led to "decadent" (19c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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