Definitions

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

  • adj. Depleted of vitality, force, or effectiveness; exhausted: the final, effete period of the baroque style.
  • adj. Marked by self-indulgence, triviality, or decadence: an effete group of self-professed intellectuals.
  • adj. Overrefined; effeminate.
  • adj. No longer productive; infertile.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of substances, quantities etc: exhausted, spent, worn-out.
  • adj. Of people: lacking strength or vitality; feeble, powerless, impotent.
  • adj. Decadent, self-indulgent.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. No longer capable of producing young, as an animal, or fruit, as the earth; hence, worn out with age; exhausted of energy; incapable of efficient action; no longer productive; barren; sterile.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Past bearing; functionless, as a result of age or exhaustion.
  • Hence Having the energies worn out or exhausted; become incapable of efficient action; barren of results.
  • Synonyms Unproductive, unfruitful, unprolific.
  • Spent, worn out.
  • An obsolete spelling of effete.

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

  • adj. marked by excessive self-indulgence and moral decay

Etymologies

Latin effētus, worn out, exhausted : ex-, ex- + fētus, bearing young, pregnant; see dhē(i)- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin effetus ("that has given birth; exhausted"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The anti-intellectualism that is popular in political and social discourse in this country when referring to the "effete European culture" that puts a high premium on learning and our instant gratification mentality that stems from our over-commercialized society discourages and disparages the kind of hard, persistent, and concentrated work that produces good learning, not just test taking.

    Joel Shatzky: Educating for Democracy: Dumbing Down the English Regents

  • So quipped Gore Vidal, after being told by William F. Buckley, Jr. that if he didn't stop calling the effete reactionary a crypto-Nazi, the "queer" would get socked "in the goddamned face."

    Dennis Perrin: Buckley's Rancid Career

  • Although many karate styles emphasize competition over the so-called effete “dancing” of “traditional” styles that “begin and end with kata,” all karate practitioners decry the sportification suspōtsuka of karate.

    Karate and Modernity: A Call for Comments

  • Is it simply a reproduction of one of these Eastern nationalities, which we are so fond of alluding to as effete?

    Confessions and Criticisms

  • But Russians have similar traits as Iranians : Russians like poisoning a crime known as an effete crime practiced most often by women and Iranians talk tough while trying to get their dirty deeds done by others.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • The airwaves were filled with insults about "effete" and "cowardly" Frenchmen, the phrase "cheese eating surrender monkeys" was on lips across the nation, and rich patriots were boycotting Rhône wine in the spirit of national sacrifice.

    Richard (RJ) Eskow: The French Connection: That Jailed Banker Raises US Issues

  • The airwaves were filled with insults about "effete" and "cowardly" Frenchmen, the phrase "cheese eating surrender monkeys" was on many a pair of lips, and rich patriots were boycotting Rhône wine in the spirit of national sacrifice.

    Richard (RJ) Eskow: The French Connection: That Jailed Banker Raises US Issues

  • The airwaves were filled with insults about "effete" and "cowardly" Frenchmen, the phrase "cheese eating surrender monkeys" was on lips across the nation, and rich patriots were boycotting Rhône wine in the spirit of national sacrifice.

    Richard (RJ) Eskow: The French Connection: That Jailed Banker Raises US Issues

  • I know, I know — the term "effete" doesn't begin to describe such an approach to fishing, but as we say in New York, "What are ya gonna do?"

    The Lure of Central Park

  • I'm a democrat that will vote for McCain if the Dems are moronic enough to select this 'effete' for it's party.

    West Virginia Gov. not ready to call race for Obama

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Comments

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  • As we find stumps of vast trees in our exhausted soils, and have received traditions of their ancient fertility to tillage, so history reckons epochs in which the intellect of famed races becomes effete.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson, English Traits

    July 25, 2011

  • Always reminds me of effeminate.

    October 21, 2007

  • See effete liberals.

    October 21, 2007