effete

play
adjective ef·fete \e-ˈfēt, i-\

Definition of effete

  1. 1 :  no longer fertile

  2. 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. Andrewsb :  marked by weakness or decadence the effete Eastc :  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. 3 :  effeminate 1 a good-humored, effete boy brought up by maiden aunts — Herman Wouk

effetely

adverb

effeteness

noun

effete was our Word of the Day on 01/21/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of effete in a Sentence

  1. effete members of the aristocracy

  2. the soft, effete society that marked the final years of the Roman empire

Recent Examples of effete from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of effete

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


First Known Use: 1660


EFFETE Defined for English Language Learners

effete

play
adjective

Definition of effete for English Language Learners

  • : lacking strength, courage, or spirit

  • : resembling a woman



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