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October 15, 2022

Effete/adjective/ e-ˈfēt

Effete is an adjective that has a few different meanings.

  1. Ineffective and infertile
  2. Something that has lost its character, strength, and vitality
  3. Something soft and delicate, as if from a pampered experience


The word effete originates from the Latin word effetus, which means no longer fertile or worn out. We used to use the word in English To describe an animal who lost its ability to reproduce. However, it is primarily used in a figurative sense for someone/something that is exhausted, worn out, or tired.

Starting in the 1920s, we began to use effete to describe weakness in character, snobbery and overrefinement. This is how John Steinbeck used the word in his 1945 novel Cannery Row. “Now and then some effete customer would order a stinger or an anisette.”

In a Sentence

Where have you been? We tried the radio, and the signal has become effete. We need to reconfigure the connection.

Ever since the city hall fire, the town services are effete.

The effete members of the French monarchy were under extreme scrutiny by the hungry working class.  


Weak, Inefficient, Decadent


Strong, Hardy, Efficient


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