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ef·​fem·​i·​nate ə-ˈfe-mə-nət How to pronounce effeminate (audio)
: having feminine qualities untypical of a man : not manly in appearance or manner
: marked by an unbecoming delicacy or overrefinement
effeminate art
an effeminate civilization


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: an effeminate person

Examples of effeminate in a Sentence

Adjective He had a high and somewhat effeminate voice. he had a high and somewhat effeminate voice
Recent Examples on the Web
But worry not: Once it’s done poking fun at an effeminate male stereotype, the script swoops in with a cautious coming-out monologue perfectly tailored to generate a fresh round of headlines celebrating and/or criticizing Disney’s latest LGBTQ milestone. Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, 3 Aug. 2021 The creative editing of the show, which had previously been broadcast uncensored on the platforms Sohu and iQiyi before the streaming agreements expired, comes as Chinese regulators ramp up their policing of media, including censoring LGBT content and banning depictions of effeminate men. Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2022 She’d been bullied by kids in grade school and subjected to physical harm for being a boy who was, in their judgment, too effeminate. Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone, 8 Dec. 2022 American culture was brilliantly exposed — and neutered — through an effeminate homosexual artist’s application of drag. Los Angeles Times, 25 July 2022 From an early age, I was considered by other cisgender males of my age to be effeminate. Marc Jacobs, Vogue, 13 June 2022 Last year, this manifested itself in sudden and disruptive bans on online tutoring, campaigns against effeminate celebrities, on-and-off restrictions on burning coal and regulatory assaults on consumer Internet companies. Greg Ip, WSJ, 5 Jan. 2022 Smit-McPhee grew up in Melbourne not always fitting among the sporty boys at his school, a heterosexual young man with conspicuously effeminate traits. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, 22 Nov. 2021 Soon after moving in together, Rose finds an unexpected adversary in George's lonely, jealous brother, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch), who casually taunts and torments her and her effeminate teenage son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 18 Nov. 2021
The effeminate restaurant critic Gil Chesterton was his breakout role, leading to parts in The Paper (1994), The First Wives Club (1996), Uptown Girls (2003), The Prestige (2006), Mary Poppins Returns (2018), and voicing Zazu in The Lion King III (1998) and The Lion King 1½ (2004). Declan Gallagher, EW.com, 12 Oct. 2023 Or of the effeminate Frederick Ashton, bullied at his British boarding school and abused by his homophobic father. Alice Robb, The New Republic, 16 Oct. 2023 Girls saw in him a boy who was kind, empathetic and effeminate. Matt Kempner, ajc, 22 June 2023 As an effeminate, Black man from the South, wearing loud clothes and singing louder music, Little Richard was unlike anything America had seen. Lester Fabian Brathwaite, EW.com, 21 Apr. 2023 Richard walked with a limp and was mocked for his effeminate manner, raising eyebrows at home by wearing his mother’s jewelry and fashioning robes out of curtains and bedsheets. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Jan. 2023 Weightlifting was for the circus or the effeminate; ladies didn’t perspire, much less sweat. Katrina Gulliver, WSJ, 2 Jan. 2023 This means tackling the stigma faced by many men who do choose these roles as effeminate, or as professional failures. Richard V. Reeves, Time, 19 Oct. 2022 And, in a significant departure from the preceding century, men stopped wearing high heels, which were now seen as effeminate. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 Aug. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'effeminate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1597, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near effeminate

Cite this Entry

“Effeminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/effeminate. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


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

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