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 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 The filmic Persians are uniformly dark and effeminate. Myke Cole, The New Republic, "The Sparta Fetish Is a Cultural Cancer," 1 Aug. 2019 Gay men, historically, have been made fun of and ridiculed for effeminate behavior or affect. BostonGlobe.com, "Readers React: ‘Hey, dummy. Gender ain’t real!’," 20 June 2019 There were twenty students, the article said, mostly effeminate boys and butch girls who had trouble fitting in at their old schools. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Coming Out, and Rising Up, in the Fifty Years After Stonewall," 28 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 To his father’s consternation, everything from Eddy’s manner of speaking, to his gait, to his tastes are effeminate in the eyes of the townspeople. Samuel Metz, New Republic, "Édouard Louis’s Novel of the French Working Class," 8 June 2017 Romans used jokes and laughter to mock the physically deformed and the effeminate, among others. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "When Actors Mixed Politics and Comedy in Ancient Rome," 24 Apr. 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 25 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for effeminate


How to pronounce effeminate (audio)

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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