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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
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
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for epicenism

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 epicenism

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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