• synonyms


[adjective ih-fem-uh-nit; verb ih-fem-uh-neyt]
  1. (of a man or boy) having traits, tastes, habits, etc., traditionally considered feminine, as softness or delicacy.
  2. characterized by excessive softness, delicacy, self-indulgence, etc.: effeminate luxury.
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verb (used with or without object), ef·fem·i·nat·ed, ef·fem·i·nat·ing.
  1. to make or become effeminate.
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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)


1. See female.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for effemination

Historical Examples

  • In this article I have described only mild types of viraginity and effemination.

    Religion and Lust

    James Weir

  • The effemination of the males had continued with quickened tempo.

    Against The Grain

    Joris-Karl Huysmans

  • Almost every case of effemination or viraginity can be cured if recognized and treated in its incipiency.

  • Effemination finds more victims among the wealthy and the educated than among the poor and uneducated.

  • Effemination and viraginity are common types of degeneration which always follow in the wake of luxury and debauchery.

British Dictionary definitions for effemination


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

Word Origin and History for effemination



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

effemination in Medicine


  1. The acquisition of feminine characteristics, either physiologically by women, or pathologically by persons of either sex.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.