Definitions

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

  • adj. Belonging to or having the characteristics of both the male and the female: an epicene statue.
  • adj. Effeminate; unmanly.
  • adj. Sexless; neuter.
  • adj. Linguistics Having only one form of the noun for both the male and the female.
  • n. One that is epicene.
  • n. Linguistics An epicene word.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. lacking gender distinction, often specifically due to lack of either the masculine or the feminine
  • adj. effeminate (male with unusually strong female characteristics)
  • adj. androgynous, hermaphrodite (having both male and female characteristics)
  • adj. asexual (having neither male nor female characteristics)
  • adj. having only one form of the word, which serves as both masculine and feminine, even for either male or female referents
  • n. A hermaphrodite person or other creature
  • n. An effeminate person
  • n. An epicene word, without separate grammatical gender forms.
  • n. An epicene object

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Common to both sexes; -- a term applied, in grammar, to such nouns as have but one form of gender, either the masculine or feminine, to indicate animals of both sexes; as boy^s, bos, for the ox and cow; sometimes applied to eunuchs and hermaphrodites.
  • Fig.: Sexless; neither one thing nor the other.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Belonging to or including both sexes: especially, in grammar, applied to nouns having only one form of gender to indicate animals of both sexes: thus, the Greek ο%35ϊς and Latin ovis, a sheep, are feminine words, whether applied to males or to females.

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

  • adj. having an ambiguous sexual identity
  • n. one having both male and female sexual characteristics and organs; at birth an unambiguous assignment of male or female cannot be made
  • adj. having unsuitable feminine qualities

Etymologies

Middle English, having only one form of the noun for either gender, from Latin epicoenus, from Greek epikoinos, in common : epi-, epi- + koinos, common; see kom in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Latin epicoenus, from Ancient Greek ἐπίκοινος ("common"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • His face was as much feminine as masculine, of that kind called epicene, and Carmine doubted that the double-sexed look would vanish as he grew older.

    TOO MANY MURDERS

  • The kind of looks called epicene, a beauty as much feminine as masculine, and such amazing coloring!

    The First Man in Rome

  • In a more recent movement, "hir" and "ze" (pronounced "here" and "zee") are sometimes used to describe transgender people - a contemporary challenge that confronts the idea of epicene English like never before.

    The Michigan Daily

  • But the merely decorative celebrity cameos — bluff, bearded Walt Whitman, with an "epicene" male friend, and Charles Darwin, who loudly and repeatedly breaks wind — make clear that "Heyday" is infotainment for readers Andersen must consider clueless.

    He'll Take Manhattan

  • The mad cuckoo behind the little door could not resist casting a shadow upon the virility of his enemy, just as the cuckoo astonishingly characterized those who demonstrated against the war in New York, October 1965, as "epicene" and "mincing" slobs, thus slyly assigning to sodom’s banner such unlikely recruits as I.F. Stone, Ossie Davis, and Father Philip Berrigan.

    r_urell: William F. Buckley: Father of Modern "Conservatism"

  • She argued that Camp, a style marked by extravagance, epicene in character, expressed a new sensibility that would "dethrone the serious."

    A Very Public Intellectual

  • Puss teams up with Humpty Dumpty a creepily epicene ovoid voiced with eerie plaintiveness by Zach Galifianakis to repay an old debt by stealing some magic beans from Jack and Jill.

    'Like Crazy': From Cupid's Blunders, Wonders

  • The Transbad Saints, on the other hand, are a slick crowd of phoneys led by the posturing, epicene Helmet Al Weaver, who steal a No 1 hit from Keva and head for the States.

    Powder – review

  • Today we venerate Caravaggio as the master of chiaroscuro effects of light and shade, of saints with dirty feet, of dramatic religious encounters, as the painter of figures of epicene sexuality.

    Return to the Grim and Dark

  • Only her wastrel cousin Vincent Vere, she believes, possesses a poetic soul similar to her own, though the philistine world regards him as nothing but a sickly, rather epicene dandy and sponge.

    Tolstoy and Trollope Fans, Meet Couperus

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  • "In a dystopian society in the future, a group of wealthy, epicene overlords—authoritarians with violet hair and the vicious manners of French courtiers—threaten and control an impoverished population."
    "Kids at Risk" by David Denby, in The New Yorker, p 68 of the April 2, 2012 issue.

    April 4, 2012

  • "He moved toward me lightly. His left hand palpated my chest and armpits, moved down my flanks and hips. I was glad I'd left my gun in the car, but I hated to be touched by him. His hands were epicene."

    --Ross Macdonald, The Moving Target

    August 24, 2009