[adjective ih-fem-uh-nit; verb ih-fem-uh-neyt]


(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), ef·fem·i·nat·ed, ef·fem·i·nat·ing.

to make or become effeminate.

Origin of effeminate

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin effēminātus, equivalent to ef- ef- + fēmin(a) woman + -ātus -ate1
Related formsef·fem·i·nate·ly, adverbef·fem·i·nate·ness, nounef·fem·i·na·tion, nounun·ef·fem·i·nate, adjectiveun·ef·fem·i·nate·ly, adverb
Can be confusedeffeminate effete feminine womanish womanly (see synonym study at womanly)

Synonyms for effeminate

1. See female.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for effeminate

Contemporary Examples of effeminate

Historical Examples of effeminate

  • I would say,” answered Charmidas, “that he was a mean-spirited, effeminate fellow.

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


    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

British Dictionary definitions for effeminate



(of a man or boy) displaying characteristics regarded as typical of a woman; not manly
lacking firmness or vigouran effeminate piece of writing
Derived Formseffeminacy or effeminateness, nouneffeminately, adverb

Word Origin for effeminate

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

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