Definition of effete in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪˈfiːt/


1Affected, over-refined, 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.
affected, over-refined, ineffectual, artificial, studied, pretentious, precious, chichi, flowery, mannered
informal twee, la-di-da, pseud
British informal poncey, toffee-nosed
rare alembicated
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.
weakened, enfeebled, enervated, worn out, exhausted, finished, burnt out, played out, drained, spent, powerless
1.2(Of a man) weak or effeminate: he chatted away, exercising his rather effete charm
More example sentences
  • He also had a certain masculine mystique about him, unlike the intellectual, artistic and sometimes effete men who were part of her set.
  • Most memorable of the main characters was Mr Humphries, senior sales assistant in the menswear department, a camp and effete man, sharp-tongued and as light as a fairy on his feet.
  • Yet her effete husband paraded his catamites in front of her; Piers Gaveston even flaunted the Queen's wedding jewellery on his person.
effeminate, unmasculine, unmanly;
womanish, girlish, feminine;
weak, soft, timid, timorous, fearful, cowardly, lily-livered, limp-wristed, spineless, craven, milksoppish, pusillanimous, chicken-hearted, weak-kneed
informal sissy, wimpish, wimpy, pansy-like



Example sentences
  • Cricket in Scotland may be a minority pursuit and there will always be those who see it as effetely English, as you say, and therefore to be resisted.
  • Cullen's creative work is often effetely comfortable and self-consciously vulnerable.
  • We want our kids to be educated but we hate elitists who seem over effetely educated.


Pronunciation: /ɪˈfiːtnəs/
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.


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

  • 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’.

Words that rhyme with effete

accrete, autocomplete, beet, bittersweet, bleat, cheat, cleat, clubfeet, compete, compleat, complete, conceit, Crete, deceit, delete, deplete, discreet, discrete, eat, élite, entreat, escheat, estreat, excrete, feat, feet, fleet, gîte, greet, heat, leat, leet, Magritte, maltreat, marguerite, meat, meet, meet-and-greet, mesquite, mete, mistreat, neat, outcompete, peat, Pete, petite, pleat, receipt, replete, sangeet, seat, secrete, sheet, skeet, sleet, splay-feet, street, suite, sweet, teat, treat, tweet, wheat

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ef¦fete

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