Share this entry

Share this page

effete

Syllabification: ef·fete
Pronunciation: /əˈfēt
 
/

Definition of effete in English:

adjective

1(Of a person) affected, overrefined, and ineffectual: effete trendies from art college
More example sentences
  • They saw us with our floppy fringes and effete mannerisms and went mental.
  • Being perceived as an effete art student often made the dressing room a very uncomfortable place for me.
  • I think it's important to read because it makes clear that he's not some effete lefty urbanite like me: he's a sober heartland working-class American who knows whereof he speaks.
Synonyms
affected, pretentious, precious, mannered, overrefined;
ineffectual
informal la-di-da
1.1No longer capable of effective action: the authority of an effete aristocracy began to dwindle
More example sentences
  • The British bourgeoisie is not subaltern to an effete but tenacious aristocracy.
  • The aristocracy are slightly unreal and living in an effete world.
  • The effete aristocrats must rely on the butler's practical skills to survive, and the balance of power shifts from master to servant.
Synonyms
weak, enfeebled, enervated, worn out, exhausted, finished, drained, spent, powerless, ineffectual

Origin

early 17th century (in the sense 'no longer fertile, past bearing young'): from Latin effetus 'worn out by bearing young', from ex- 'out' + fetus 'breeding'; related to fetus.

More
  • Today effete is usually used of a young man who is affected and rather effeminate, but the word originally referred to animals and meant ‘no longer fertile, too old to bear young’. It comes from Latin effetus, from ex-, meaning ‘out’, and fetus ‘breeding, childbirth, offspring’—the same word as English foetus (Late Middle English) (US fetus). The meaning developed into ‘having exhausted strength or vigour’ and in the late 18th century on to ‘feeble, over-refined’.

Derivatives

effeteness

1
noun
Example sentences
  • For the last several days, crime has taken on hitherto unheard of proportions - almost daily on radio, TV and in the print media, the public is reminded of the apparent effeteness of the police in the face of mounting crime.
  • For all his surface effeteness, he never lacked courageous depths.
  • The U.S. premiere revealed a company with an expansive, athletic, yet centered style of movement that eradicates any lingering notion of English effeteness.

Definition of effete in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day odium
Pronunciation: ˈəʊdɪəm
noun
widespread hatred or disgust for someone…