Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Having qualities or characteristics more often associated with women than men. See Synonyms at female.
  • adj. Characterized by weakness and excessive refinement.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having behaviour or mannerisms considered unmasculine or typical of a woman or girl; feminine.
  • v. To make womanly; to unman.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having some characteristic of a woman, as delicacy, luxuriousness, etc.; soft or delicate to an unmanly degree; womanish; weak.
  • adj. Womanlike; womanly; tender; -- in a good sense.
  • intransitive v. To grow womanish or weak.
  • transitive v. To make womanish; to make soft and delicate; to weaken.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make womanish; unman; weaken.
  • To grow womanish or weak; melt into weakness.
  • Having the qualities of the female sex; soft or delicate to an unmanly degree; womanish: applied to men.
  • Characterized by or resulting from effeminacy: as, an effeminate peace; an effeminate life.
  • Womanlike; tender.
  • Synonyms Womanish, etc. (see feminine), weak, unmanly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. having unsuitable feminine qualities

Etymologies

Middle English effeminat, from Latin effēminātus, past participle of effēmināre, to make feminine : ex-, ex- + fēmina, woman; see dhē(i)- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin effēminātus, past participle of effēmināre. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • For instance, the King James Version uses the term effeminate which is an offensive term to describe a man whose behavior, appearance or speech is considered to be more similar to that of females.

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  • It's the "unbecoming" part that leads me to associate the word effeminate with a degree of campiness that I don't believe applies to Renly and Loras.

    Meet GRRM and (maybe) cast and crew

  • The adjectives and derivatives based on woman's distinctions are alien and derogatory when applied to human affairs; "effeminate" -- too female, connotes contempt, but has no masculine analogue; whereas "emasculate" -- not enough male, is a term of reproach, and has no feminine analogue.

    The Man-Made World; or, Our Androcentric Culture

  • But the male assumes his influence to be normal, human, and the female influence as wholly a matter of sex; therefore, where women teach boys, the boys become "effeminate" -- a grievous fall.

    The Man-Made World; or, Our Androcentric Culture

  • His complexion might in itself be called effeminate, its bloom was so fresh and delicate; but there was so much of boldness and energy in the play of his countenance, the hardy outline of the lips, and the open breadth of the forehead, that "effeminate" was an epithet no one ever assigned to his aspect.

    The Parisians — Volume 03

  • I wonder how much the boys' recourse to "prescribed" externalizations of genuine depression-- particularly boys who have a real hangup about being "effeminate"-- winds up in the form of almost exclusively emotionally abusive relationships.

    Gender: A Question of Diagnosis?

  • If men engage in homosexual act or a homosexual relationship and they are perceived as being effeminate, that is when they are more likely to be the victims of persecution.

    CNN Transcript Sep 27, 2007

  • In other cultures he might be described as effeminate and, therefore, be an object of derision.

    The Kaisho

  • That which is soft and effeminate, which is calculated to excite the passions, by multitudes of ambiguous expressions, (not the less dangerous for being so cloaked) should be considered by Christians as an abuse the more deplorable, as it has even been censured and condemned by the pagans.

    The Life and Legends of Saint Francis of Assisi

  • Taken as a whole, there is something impalpable and immaterial about him, which I will not venture to call effeminate, but which is scarcely manly.

    Amiel's Journal

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Comments

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  • You mean like that thing Richard Simmons does? Probably best as an intransitive, seeing as how it affect us all indirectly... ;-)

    September 17, 2007

  • Hmm...interesting concept....

    September 17, 2007

  • Has anyone ever seen this used as a transitive verb?

    September 17, 2007