late 14c., "womanish; voluptuous; tender," from Latin effeminatus "womanish, effeminate," past participle of effeminare "make a woman of," from assimilated form of ex "out" (see ex-) + femina "woman, a female" (literally "she who suckles," from PIE root *dhe(i)- "to suck"). Rarely used but in reproach. The noun meaning "effeminate person" is from 1590s. Related: Effeminately; effemination.
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