a. Characterized by extreme refinement or self-indulgence, often to the point of unworldiness or decadence: "the effete taste of people surfeited with expensive comforts" (R.P.T. Davenport-Hines).
b. Having or reflecting an attitude of social superiority; pretentious or snobbish: "Throughout its amateur era tennis was a country club sport, denigrated as elitist and effete" (Stuart Miller).
2. Depleted of vitality, force, or effectiveness; exhausted: the effete monarchies of Europe.
3. Effeminate: "As a manly adventurer ... [Saint Paul] seemed the perfect rebuttal to our great, if unspoken, fear that the celibate vocation was effete" (James Carroll).
4. Archaic No longer productive; infertile.
[Latin effētus, worn out, exhausted : ex-, ex- + fētus, bearing young, pregnant; see dhē(i)- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.