effete

adjective
ef·​fete | \ e-ˈfēt How to pronounce effete (audio) , i- \

Definition of effete

1 : no longer fertile
2a : having lost character, vitality, or strength the effete monarchies … of feudal Europe— G. M. Trevelyan … macrophages that recycle used iron from effete red cells.— Nancy C. Andrews
b : marked by weakness or decadence the effete East
c : soft or delicate from or as if from a pampered existence peddled … trendy tweeds to effete Easterners— William Helmer effete tenderfeet also : characteristic of an effete person a wool scarf … a bit effete on an outdoorsman — Nelson Bryant
3 : effeminate sense 1 a good-humored, effete boy brought up by maiden aunts— Herman Wouk

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Other Words from effete

effetely adverb
effeteness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for effete

Synonyms

Antonyms

  • undecadent
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Did You Know?

Effete derives from Latin effetus, meaning "no longer fruitful," and for a brief time in English it was used to describe an animal no longer capable of producing offspring. For most of its existence in English, however, the use of "effete" has been entirely figurative. For many years, the usual figurative sense of the word was "exhausted" or "worn out," but today "effete" is more likely to suggest overrefinement, weakness of character, snobbery, and effeminacy. "Effete" first showed signs of acquiring these shades of meaning in the 1920s, but it wasn't until the 1940s that the new "effete" clearly established itself in reputable writing. One example can be found in John Steinbeck's 1945 novel Cannery Row: "now and then some effete customer would order a stinger or an anisette."

Examples of effete in a Sentence

effete members of the aristocracy the soft, effete society that marked the final years of the Roman empire
Recent Examples on the Web The early part of the film, filled with Elliott’s effete insults, simpering and whining, doesn’t establish an endearing mood. oregonlive, "The best worst movie? Many film lovers choose ‘Showgirls,’ but Patrick Swayze’s oeuvre offers contenders," 27 Mar. 2020 Usually interpreted as a mannerism of effete tea-drinkers, the pointed pinky is actually a threat aimed at gays, who were forced to wear pink triangles by the Nazis. James Lileks, National Review, "Okay Stupid," 19 Dec. 2019 For you effete coastal residents who are unfamiliar with the delights of flyover country, DQ means Dairy Queen. George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: ‘Texodus’ bodes badly for Republicans," 20 Oct. 2019 For you effete coastal residents who are unfamiliar with the delights of flyover country, DQ means Dairy Queen. George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: ‘Texodus’ bodes badly for Republicans," 20 Oct. 2019 For you effete coastal residents who are unfamiliar with the delights of flyover country, DQ means Dairy Queen. George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: ‘Texodus’ bodes badly for Republicans," 20 Oct. 2019 For you effete coastal residents who are unfamiliar with the delights of flyover country, DQ means Dairy Queen. George Will, National Review, "‘Texodus’ Bodes Badly for Republicans," 20 Oct. 2019 So at least Belichick has experience overcoming an effete ground game. BostonGlobe.com, "in Fort Foxborough this week, with offensive line alchemist Dante Scarnecchia lamenting the team’s rushing struggles.," 31 Oct. 2019 For you effete coastal residents who are unfamiliar with the delights of flyover country, DQ means Dairy Queen. George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: ‘Texodus’ bodes badly for Republicans," 20 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'effete.' 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 effete

1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for effete

Latin effetus, from ex- + fetus fruitful — more at feminine

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Time Traveler for effete

Time Traveler

The first known use of effete was in 1660

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Last Updated

6 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Effete.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/effete. Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for effete

effete

adjective
How to pronounce effete (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of effete

disapproving
: lacking strength, courage, or spirit
: resembling a woman

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More from Merriam-Webster on effete

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for effete

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with effete

Spanish Central: Translation of effete

Nglish: Translation of effete for Spanish Speakers

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