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epicene

[ep-i-seen] /ˈɛp ɪˌsin/
adjective
1.
belonging to, or partaking of the characteristics of, both sexes:
Fashions in clothing are becoming increasingly epicene.
2.
flaccid; feeble; weak:
an epicene style of writing.
3.
effeminate; unmasculine.
4.
(of Greek and Latin nouns) of the same gender class regardless of the sex of the being referred to, as Latin vulpēs “fox or vixen” is always grammatically feminine.
5.
Grammar. (of a noun or pronoun) capable of referring to either sex, as attendant, chairperson, Kim, one, or they; having common gender.
noun
6.
a person or thing that is epicene.
Origin of epicene
late Middle English
1400-1450
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin epicoenus of both genders < Greek epíkoinos common to many, equivalent to epi- epi- + koinós common
Related forms
epicenism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for epicene
Historical Examples
  • But a liberal-minded public grew more and more in favor of epicene colleges.

  • What's the meaning of this; and what, may I ask, is the intention of this—this epicene attire?

    Stalky & Co. Rudyard Kipling
  • He was a great contrast to the epicene bird-like creature who had lorded it over the civic fortunes of Valladolid.

    The American Egypt Channing Arnold
  • He looked away, for that epicene tenderness of hers was too harrowing.

    Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
  • This seemed to him an odd way to look at things, and he boggled over a phrase about an "epicene lily."

    Huntingtower John Buchan
  • Sentiment is the ultima ratio feminarum, and of men whose natures are of the epicene gender.

  • The latest development of the impulses which animate the epicene sex has taken its expression in after-dinner oratory.

British Dictionary definitions for epicene

epicene

/ˈɛpɪˌsiːn/
adjective
1.
having the characteristics of both sexes; hermaphroditic
2.
of neither sex; sexless
3.
effeminate
4.
(grammar)
  1. denoting a noun that may refer to a male or a female, such as teacher as opposed to businessman or shepherd
  2. (in Latin, Greek, etc) denoting a noun that retains the same grammatical gender regardless of the sex of the referent
noun
5.
an epicene person or creature
6.
an epicene noun
Derived Forms
epicenism, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin epicoenus of both genders, from Greek epikoinos common to many, from koinos common
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for epicene
adj.

mid-15c., epycen, originally a grammatical term for nouns that may denote either gender, from Latin epicoenus "common," from Greek epikoinos "common to many, promiscuous," from epi "on" (see epi-) + koinos "common" (see coeno-). Extended sense of "characteristic of both sexes" first recorded in English c.1600; that of "effeminate" 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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