epicene

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See also: épicène

English[edit]

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Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English, from Latin epicoenon ‎(grammatical category), from Ancient Greek γένος ἐπίκοινον ‎(génos epíkoinon), from ἐπίκοινος ‎(epíkoinos, common; sluttish), from ἐπι- ‎(epi-, epi-: upon, over) + κοινός ‎(koinós, common). Used as a synonym for hermaphrodite and androgynous from the 17th century.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

epicene ‎(not comparable)

  1. (linguistics) Of or related to a class of Greek and Latin nouns that may refer to men or women but have a fixed grammatical gender.
    The Greek word ἀλώπηξ ‎(alṓpēx) is an epicene noun: it is always grammatically feminine, even when referring to male foxes.
  2. (linguistics) Of or related to nouns (in any language) that have a single form for male and female referents.
    Examples of modern epicene nouns include the genderless English violinist and the gendered but invariant French enfant.
  3. (biology and figuratively) Of indeterminate sex, whether asexual, hermaphrodite, androgynous, or intersex.
    • 1934, George Orwell, Burmese Days, Chapter 22, [1]
      Five High School boys came down the road abreast. Ellis saw them coming, a row of yellow, malicious faces—epicene faces, horribly smooth and young, grinning at him with deliberate insolence.
    • 1997, Don DeLillo, Underworld, New York: Scribner, 2015, Part 6, 1, p. 675, [2]
      A few boys still playing ringolievio, haphazard and half speed, the clumsy fatboy trapped in the den, always caught, always it, the slightly epicene butterfat bulk, the boy who's always reaching down to lift a droopy sock and getting swift-kicked by the witlings and sadists. ¶ Is that what being it means? Neutered, sexless, impersonalized.
    You're so epicene... Which pronoun should I use?
  4. (figuratively, of men, usually pejorative) Effeminate.
    • 1994, Will Self, "The Valley of the Corn Dollies" in The Guardian, republished 17 January, 2014, [3]
      A lot of rather etiolated, epicene, middle-class, male intellectuals have discovered a new authenticity when they come to identify themselves as football fans.
  5. (figuratively) Indeterminate; mixed.
  6. Suitable for use regardless of sex: unisex.

Synonyms[edit]

Synonyms[edit]

  • (linguistics, one word with two grammatical genders): common

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

epicene ‎(plural epicenes)

  1. (linguistics) An epicene word.
  2. (linguistics, with definite article) The epicene words of a language as a class.
  3. An epicene person, an androgyne, whether biologically asexual, intersex, or hermaphrodite or of indeterminate sex in behavior and appearance.
  4. (of men, usually pejorative) An effeminate man, particularly a man dressed as a woman.

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Italian[edit]

Adjective[edit]

epicene

  1. feminine plural of epiceno