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“Fellow sufferers. Very unhappy, but it can’t be help’t.—We were rather too old Brother, before we married.—vide the Progress of an Old Bachelor.” This caricature published by Laurie & Whittle on 12 July 1799 from the collection of the Welcome Library in London, England, UK, depicts two young wives placing antlers on the heads of their older husbands, indicating cuckoldry and thus the emasculation of the men.

From Latin emasculare[1] or emasculō (to emasculate), from ē- (a variant of ex- (suffix denoting privation), from Proto-Indo-European *h₁eǵʰs (out)) + masculus (male, masculine; a man) + (suffix forming verbs). Masculus is derived from mās (a man, a male) +‎ -culus (suffix forming a diminutive of a noun).



emasculate (comparative more emasculate, superlative most emasculate)

  1. Deprived of virility or vigor; unmanned, weak.
    • 1782, Richard Cumberland, Anecdotes of Eminent Painters in Spain, during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries; with Cursory Remarks upon the Present Stateof Arts in that Kingdom. [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, London: Printed for J[ohn] Walter, Charing-Cross, OCLC 40471720, pages 199–200:
      If the Icelander in his native climate ever ſhould experience the impulſe of a painter's genius, the year itſelf would not ſupply many hours in which his fingers could obey its ſummons; and in the other extremity of climate, where every fibre is unſtrung by relaxation, all, who have experienced, know the inaptitude both of mind and body towards any action or employ of either; unfit alike for arts and arms, the emaſculate and ſoft inhabitant ſinks into ſloth and ſlumbers away a life, that ſcarce deſerves a better name than vegetation.
    • 1794, Richard Cumberland, “Book I. The Assembling of the Devils.”, in Calvary, or The Death of Christ. A Poem, in Eight Books, Dublin: Printed by Robert Napper, for B. Dugdale, No. 150, Capel-Street, OCLC 642299098, lines 279–287, pages 14–15:
      Thence as he glanc'd his eye, far other form / And much unfit for war he next eſpied, / Chemos, the ſin of Moab; power obſcene, / Emaſculate and ſoft, in looſe attire / A ſenſual deity; his glory 'twas / In arts of baſe ſeduction to excel, / And leagu'd with harlots to have turn'd the heart, / Of that wife king, and drawn him from his God / To bend his aged knees at idol ſhrines.



emasculate (third-person singular simple present emasculates, present participle emasculating, simple past and past participle emasculated)

  1. (transitive) To deprive of virile or procreative power; to castrate, to geld. [from early 17th c.]
    • 1789, Gilbert White, “Letter XXXII. To the Same [Daines Barrington].”, in The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, in the County of Southampton: With Engravings, and an Appendix, London: Printed by T[homas] Bensley; for B[enjamin] White and Son, at Horace's Head, Fleet Street, OCLC 436445604, page 212:
      Castration has a ſtrange effect; it emaſculates both man, beaſt and bird, and brings them to a near reſemblance of the other ſex. Thus, eunuchs have ſmooth unmuſcular arms, thighs, and legs; and broad hips, and beardleſs chins, and ſqueaking voices. Gelt stags and bucks have hornleſs heads, like hinds and does.
    • 1793, T[homas] Wilson, “Priest”, in An Archæological Dictionary; or, Classical Antiquities of the Jews, Greeks, and Romans, Alphabetically Arranged: [...], 2nd edition, London: Printed for D. Ogilvy [et al.], OCLC 977187973, column 1:
      At Athens the Prieſts and Prieſteſſes were drawn by lot, from the men and virgins of diſtinguiſhed family and irreproachable life. Maimed or deformed perſons were not admitted, and purity and chaſtity were ſo particularly required, that the Prieſts frequently uſed means to emaſculate themselves.
  2. (transitive) To deprive of masculine vigor or spirit; to weaken; to render effeminate; to vitiate by unmanly softness. [from early 17th c.]
    • 1643, William Prynne, “The Soveraigne Power of Parliaments and Kingdomes”, in The Soveraigne Power of Parliaments and Kingdomes: Divided into Fovre Parts. Together with an Appendix: [...], Printed at London: For Michael Sparke Senior, OCLC 26616869, page 29:
      [H]is Majeſty [] is now reſolved (in proſecution of his priſtine Counſels) by force or policy to diſſolve this Parliament in diſcontent, as he hath done all former, and that with ſuch advantages of a generall ill opinion of Parliaments in the ignorant miſ-informed vulgar on the one hand, and of a prevailing counquering power on his part on the other hand, as ſhall either utterly extinguiſh the hopes and Bill of ſummoning any future trienniall Parliamentary Aſſemblies, or at leaſt ſo emaſculate the vigour, and eclipſe the power of them, if called; []
    • 1795, [Vicesimus Knox], “Section II. Oriental Manners, and the Ideas Imbibed in Youth, both in the West and East Indies, Favourable to the Spirit of Depotism”, in The Spirit of Despotism, London: [s.n.], OCLC 518868465, page 13:
      A hardy race, in ungenial climates, with nerves ſtrung by the northern blaſt, though little refined by knowledge, felt in an early age, the ſentiments of manly virtue, and ſpurned the baſeneſs of ſlavery. Luxury had not emaſculated their minds; and they threw off, with native elaſticity, the burden of unjuſt dominion.
    • 1799 June 5, Richard Mant, An Essay on Commerce, Oxford: [s.n.], OCLC 4681910, page 18:
      [I]f luxury emaſculate the minds of the nobility, enervate the ſinews of the people, render money, and not merit, the paſſport to authority, and, inſtead of the ſtrong and natural ſupport of native valour, ſubſtitute the weak and inefficient prop of mercenary aid: of ſuch a ſtate, however extenſive may be its Commerce, however ample its revenue, the ruin is inevitable.
    • 1877, Ignaz Goldziher [i.e., Ignác Goldziher]; Russell Martineau, transl., “The Most Prominent Figures in Hebrew Mythology”, in Mythology among the Hebrews and Its Historical Development, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., OCLC 3737147, page 131:
      The Agadic tradition has preserved another element of the Noah-myth. The wicked black son Ham (Châm), emasculates his father []. The emasculation of the Sun, when the Sun is male, is an expression of Aryan mythology denoting the weakening of his rays before and at sunset. The black son, the Night, overcomes and emasculates his father, takes all power from his rays and drives him to ruin.
    • 2006, Steve Gerali, “The Teenage Guy’s Family and Friends (Social Development)”, in Teenage Guys: Exploring Issues Adolescent Guys Face and Strategies to Help Them, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Youth Specialities, Zondervan, ↑ISBN, section 6.3 (Guys and Family), page 233:
      A few weeks later he came to the conclusion that his mother was emasculating him. He claimed that her grip was so strong on him that he was resentful. Not only was she emasculating, but she was also "castrating" because her demands and expectations were feminizing him.
  3. (transitive, botany) Of a flower: to deprive of the anthers.
    • 1854 March, Charles G[rafton] Page, “Article IV. Artificial Fecundation of Flowers. [From the American Polytechnic Journal.]”, in M. Tarver and H. Cobb, editor, The Western Journal and Civilian, Devoted to Agriculture, Manufactures, Mechanic Arts, Internal Improvement, Commerce, Public Policy, and Polite Literature, volume XI (volume V, New Series), number VI, St. Louis, Mo.: Printed by M. Niedner & Co., cor[ner] of Pine & Third Streets, OCLC 1015869375, page 409:
      It is well understood that in artificial cross-fertilizing, in order to prevent self-fecundation, we emasculate the flower from which we wish to obtain the seeds for new varieties; that is, we remove the anthers from that flower, and in the proper season apply to the stigma the pollen from some other distinct flower.
    • 1987, John Milton Poehlman, “Breeding Forage Crops”, in Breeding Field Crops (An AVI Book), 3rd edition, New York, N.Y.: Springer Science+Business Media, DOI:10.1007/978-94-015-7271-2, ↑ISBN, page 639:
      Legume flowers are emasculated by removing the corolla, staminal tube, and anthers with small forceps, leaving the pistil intact. Anthers and pollen are sometimes removed from flowers with suction, washed off with a jet of water, or killed by immersing the flower in an alcohol solution or hot water. In crops that have a high degree of self-sterility, such as red clover, it may be unnecessary to emasculate, especially if the pollen parent has a dominant marker gene so that plants originating by self-pollination may be identified.




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