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Alternative forms[edit]


From Latin effētus (exhausted, literally that has given birth), 1620s.[1]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ɪˈfiːt/
  • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ɪˈfit/


effete (comparative more effete, superlative most effete)

  1. (obsolete) Of substances, quantities etc: exhausted, spent, worn-out.
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition II, section 4, member 1, subsection v:
      Nature is not effœte, as he saith, or so lavish, to bestow all her gifts upon an age, but hath reserved some for posterity, to shew her power, that she is still the same, and not old or consumed.
  2. Lacking strength or vitality; feeble, powerless, impotent.
    • 1929, George Macaulay Trevelyan, History of England: From 1485 to the End of the Reign of Queen Anne, 1714, page 457:
      Amid the effete monarchies and princedoms of feudal Europe, morally and materially exhausted by the Thirty Years' War, the only hope of resistance to France lay in the little Republic of merchants, Holland.
    • 1989, Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces, Faber & Faber, published 2009:
      They used rock'n'roll as a weapon against itself. With all instruments but guitar, bass, drums, and voice written off as effete, as elitist accoutrements of a professionalist cult of technique, it was music best suited to anger and frustration, []
    • 2007, Jules Witcover, Very Strange Bedfellows: The Short and Unhappy Marriage of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, page 74:
      A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete core of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals (Spiro Agnew, October 1969)
    • 2007 August 19, Luc Sante, “On the Road Again”, in New York Times[1]:
      Most writers merely produce effete works on paper, you might say, but Kerouac went and wrestled with the tree itself.
    • 2018, Michael Cottakis, Colliding worlds: Donald Trump and the European Union:
      For the President, the EU is an essentially effete project – a civilian power that likes to see itself as human rights based and collegiate, but with no hard power of its own.
  3. Decadent, weak through self-indulgence.
  4. (of a person) Affected, overrefined.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “effete”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.





  1. vocative masculine singular of effētus