ef·​fem·​i·​nate | \ ə-ˈfe-mə-nət How to pronounce effeminate (audio) \

Definition of effeminate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having feminine qualities untypical of a man : not manly in appearance or manner
2 : marked by an unbecoming delicacy or overrefinement effeminate art an effeminate civilization



Definition of effeminate (Entry 2 of 2)

: an effeminate person

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Synonyms & Antonyms for effeminate

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of effeminate in a Sentence

Adjective He had a high and somewhat effeminate voice. a comedian deliberately affecting effeminate mannerisms
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Her father, eager to change his effeminate child’s ways, would drag the child to boxing matches. Frances Robles, New York Times, "Soraya Santiago Solla, Transgender Trailblazer, Dies at 72," 2 Oct. 2020 There are fewer languid, sleek, effeminate bodies and more muscle. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "The Immovable Raphael," 19 Sep. 2020 Performing slightly effeminate blundering outrage — not playing gay, exactly, but not not gay either — Lynde set a pattern. James Hibberd, EW.com, "The mad, sad, totally fab life of Paul Lynde," 19 May 2020 Still, there were limits to the bounds of acceptability: Plucking armpit hair, say ancient sources, was fine, but plucking leg hair was considered too effeminate. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Roman Ear Cleaner, Tweezers Unearthed in England," 12 Dec. 2019 In effect, Cole said, Stephens had been discriminated against as both a man and a woman: for being too effeminate for one category and too masculine for the other. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "The Supreme Court Considers L.G.B.T. Rights, but Can’t Stop Talking About Bathrooms," 9 Oct. 2019 Hopkins' case resulted in a 6-3 victory in the Supreme Court and has been used to protect women, effeminate men and transgender people from discrimination. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, "Ann Hopkins Biopic in Development With 'Official Secrets' Producer," 7 Oct. 2019 The ’80s hipster bore no resemblance to the bearded and effeminate cottage industrialist who came to prominence as the ‘hipster’ in the new century. New York Times, "With ‘Doxology,’ Nell Zink Delivers Her Most Ambitious and Expansive Novel Yet," 19 Aug. 2019 Yet Zima, despite strong sales and nearly half of American alcohol drinkers having tried it, was met largely with ridicule: David Letterman, for instance, made a habit of parodying it as a drink for effeminate weirdos. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "It’s the unofficial drink of summer 2019, but the cheap, low-cal, gender-neutral canned cocktail has serious staying power.," 20 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In their collective eye, the word environmentalist suggests an effeminate, sentimental tree-hugger who is probably also a gun-control zealot. Philip Caputo, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: The Old Man and the Mountains," 22 Nov. 2020 In reality, there's nothing effeminate about men protecting themselves and their family from a deadly virus. Joel Shannon, USA TODAY, "Men less likely to mask up, possibly thanks to 'illusions of invulnerability,' study finds," 7 Oct. 2020 His father mocked his effeminate manner and beat him, and Richard fled home as a teen. Thor Christensen, Dallas News, "‘Womp-bomp-a-lu-momp-a-lomp-bam-boom!’ What Little Richard told our Dallas critic about Elvis, race and being gay," 9 May 2020 The painting shows Zapata straddling a horse while striking what some have described as an effeminate pose. Fox News, "Mexico’s painting of naked revolutionary hero wearing high heels sparks anger, protests," 12 Dec. 2019 In film, Asian men are often depicted as effeminate or asexual, furthering the stereotype that is assumed by users on dating apps. Brianna Holt, Quartz, "TV and film play an understated role in perpetuating racial bias on dating apps," 7 Nov. 2019 Bernard swaps stereotyping digs with Robin de Jesús’s (excellent) Emory, the most flamboyantly effeminate of the lot. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto Enter Sniping in ‘The Boys in the Band’," 31 May 2018 What’s scary, really, is the idea in the ether that compassion is effeminate and thereby un-American. Diana Spechler, Harper's BAZAAR, "Anti-Vegetarianism Is Sexism in Disguise," 3 Jan. 2018 The film follows a young man named Oskar who is frequently bullied for being effeminate. Kyle Turner, Teen Vogue, "Why Pennywise and the Babadook Were Reclaimed by the Queer Community," 31 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'effeminate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of effeminate


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1597, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for effeminate


Middle English, from Latin effeminatus, from past participle of effeminare to make effeminate, from ex- + femina woman — more at feminine

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Time Traveler for effeminate

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The first known use of effeminate was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Effeminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/effeminate. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of effeminate

: having or showing qualities that are considered more suited to women than to men : not manly

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