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

effete, epicene, sissified, sissy, unmanly, womanish

Antonyms: Adjective

manlike, manly, mannish, masculine, virile

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Examples of effeminate in a Sentence


He had a high and somewhat effeminate voice. a comedian deliberately affecting effeminate mannerisms

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 My features and mannerisms were all wildly effeminate. Kelsey Castañon, refinery29.com, "I'm Latinx — & I'm Fed Up With Being Called "Exotic"," 24 May 2018 Marr explained that one of his guitar heroes was T. Rex’s Marc Bolan who was more effeminate and wore makeup. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "Brighton's Great Escape Launches Biggest Year With New Beach Venue and The Smith's Johnny Marr," 18 May 2018 The effeminate boy with an interest in fashion gets to design the costumes. Margaret Gray, latimes.com, "'School of Rock': When Axl Rose meets Andrew Lloyd Webber," 7 May 2018 My parents viewed my reading as somewhat effeminate, but also subversive on some level. Amy Sutherland, BostonGlobe.com, "Admires books that ignite strong reactions," 2 May 2018 Rory Scovel, as Renee's slightly effeminate boyfriend, is appealing, but his underwritten role gives him little to do other than bask in Renee's newfound fearlessness. Leah Pickett, Chicago Reader, "There's something ugly about I Feel Pretty," 20 Apr. 2018 Saturday Church is a musical coming-of-age film centered around 14-year-old Ulysses, a quiet, effeminate boy struggling with questions about his gender identity under the hawk-like eye of his conservative aunt. Patrick Crowley, Billboard, "'Saturday Church' Director Damon Cardasis Talks 'Super Flattering' Comparisons To 'Moonlight' & 'La La Land'," 11 Jan. 2018 But while almost all effeminate guys are gay—so stigmatized is femininity in males (even in the gay community)—masculine swagger in women is less stigmatized and therefore somewhat less likely to correlate as strongly with lesbianism. Dan Savage, Chicago Reader, "‘Why do I always fall in love with lesbians?’," 20 Dec. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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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Statistics for effeminate

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for effeminate

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

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More Definitions for effeminate



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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Comments on effeminate

What made you want to look up effeminate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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