"Epicene" is an adjective (sometimes substantive) for loss of gender distinction, often specific loss of masculinity. It includes:

* effeminacy — a male with female characteristics,
* androgyny — having both male and female characteristics, or
* asexuality — having neither male nor female characteristics.


"Epicene" derives via Latin "epicœnus" from Greek "epikoinos" (Polytonic|επικοινός, common to), literally "epi" (Polytonic|επί, upon) and "koinos" (Polytonic|κοινός, common).


The word "epicene" is placed in bold type in the following examples.

*"In a garage band of my own, I sported the longer hair and cross-cutting fashions of the epicene trend."— Regis Nicoll. [http://www.salvomag.com/articles/hook.pdf 'Is Gender Just a State of Mind?'] In "Salvo Magazine" 2 (2007): 42-47.
*of Harvey Wright: "He is best known for the sign he displayed in his shop addressed to 'epicene women', advising them to stay at home and not trouble themselves with affairs of the world best left to men."— Bill Cooke. 'Thoughts and Comments'. In "The Open Society" [http://www.nzarh.org.nz/journal/2005v78n4sum.pdf 78] (2005): 21.
*of Jude Law: "He has a clear-eyed, epicene handsomeness — cruel, sensuous mouth; cheekbones to cut your heart on — the sort of excessive beauty that is best appreciated in repose on a 50-foot screen."— Franz Lidz. ' [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20D16F93F5F0C708DDDAC0894D9404482&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fPeople%2fL%2fLaw%2c%20Jude Summer Films/Rising Stars:] He Didn't Turn Out Obscure at All'. "New York Times", 13 May 2001.
*"She smothers (almost literally at times) her weak, epicene son Vladimir, and is prepared to commit any crime to see him become Tsar, despite his reluctance."— Ronald Bergan. " [http://www.amazon.com/dp/087951924X Sergei Eisenstein:] A Life in Conflict". Overlook Hardcover, 1999.
*"Society shall be converted into an epicene institution."— Almroth E Wright. [http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/wsuff10h.htm "The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage".] New York: Paul B Hoeber, 1913.
*"Who is this New Woman, this epicene creature, this Gorgon set up by the snarly who impute to her the faults of both sexes while denying her the charm of either — where is she to be found if she exists at all?"— Sarah Grand. 'The New Woman and the Old'. "Lady's Realm" (1898): 466.
*of emancipated woman: " [a] dulled a spiritless epicene automaton."— Charles Grant Blairfindie Allen. 'Plain Words on the Woman Question'. In "Fortnightly Review" 52 (1889): 448-458.
*"He represented an epicene species, neither churchman nor layman." — John Addington Symonds. [ [http://machaut.uchicago.edu/?resource=Webster%27s&word=epicene&use1913=on&use1828=on 'Epicene'.] In "Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary". 1913.]
*"The literary prigs epicene." — Horace Wilson. ["Ibid".]
*"Epicene [...] Convents, wherein Monks and Nuns lived together." — Thomas Fuller, c. 1661.
*Epicene Wildeblood is a character in the "Illuminatus!" trilogy.
*"Epicoene, or the Silent Woman" is a Renaissance play by Ben Jonson.

pecialized uses

In linguistics, the adjective "epicene" is used to describe a word that has only one form for both male and female referents. [ [http://www.bartleby.com/61/51/E0175100.html 'Epicene'.] "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language". Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.] In English, for example, the words "assassin" and "violinist" can refer to either a man or a woman. In languages with grammatical gender, the term "epicene" can be used in two distinct situations:
*The same word can refer to both masculine and feminine antecedents, while retaining its own grammatical gender. For example, in New Testament Greek, "parthenos" (Polytonic|παρθένος, "virgin") is a feminine noun, but masculine in form. It can be used to refer to both men and women. [JW Wenham. "The Elements of New Testament Greek". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965, p. 169.]
*A noun or adjective has identical masculine and feminine forms. For example, in French, the noun "enfant" "child" and the adjective "espiègle" "mischievous" can be either masculine or feminine: ::"un enfant espiègle" "a mischievous male child"::"une enfant espiègle" "a mischievous female child"

ee also

*Gender-neutral language in English
*Gender-neutral pronoun
*Generic antecedents
*Singular they
*Unisex names


External links

* [http://dictionary.reference.com/wordoftheday/archive/2004/09/07.html 'Epicene'.] Dictionary.com.

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  • Epicene — Épicène Un nom épicène, du latin epicoenus dérivé du grec ancien ἐπίκοινος « possédé en commun », qualifie un nom non marqué du point de vue du genre grammatical. Est épicène un nom bisexué pouvant être employé indifféremment au… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • épicène — [ episɛn ] adj. • 1762; lat. epicœnus, gr. epikoinos « commun » 1 ♦ Didact. Qui désigne aussi bien le mâle que la femelle d une espèce. Nom épicène masculin (ex.le rat), féminin (ex.la souris). 2 ♦ Dont la forme ne varie pas selon le genre.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Epicene — Ep i*cene, a. & n. [L. epicoenus, Gr. ?; fr. epi + ? common; cf. F. [ e]pic[ e]ne.] 1. Common to both sexes; a term applied, in grammar, to such nouns as have but one form of gender, either the masculine or feminine, to indicate animals of both… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • epicene — [ep′i sēn΄] adj. [ME < L epicoenus < Gr epikoinos, common < epi , upon, to + koinos, common: see COM ] 1. designating a noun, as in Latin or Greek, having only one grammatical form to denote an individual of either sex 2. belonging to… …   English World dictionary

  • epicene — mid 15c., epycen, originally a grammatical term for nouns that may denote either gender, from L. epicoenus common, from Gk. epikoinos common to many, promiscuous, from epi on (see EPI (Cf. epi )) + koinos common. Extended sense of characteristic… …   Etymology dictionary

  • epicene — hermaphroditic, hermaphrodite, *bisexual, androgynous Analogous words: effeminate, womanish (see FEMALE adj) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Épicène — Un nom épicène, du latin epicoenus dérivé du grec ancien ἐπίκοινος « possédé en commun », qualifie un nom non marqué du point de vue du genre grammatical. Est épicène un nom bisexué pouvant être employé indifféremment au masculin ou au… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • epicene — epicenism, n. /ep i seen /, adj. 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.… …   Universalium

  • epicene — ep•i•cene [[t]ˈɛp ɪˌsin[/t]] adj. 1) belonging to, or partaking of the characteristics of, both sexes 2) flaccid; feeble: epicene prose[/ex] 3) effeminate; unmasculine 4) gram. a) (of a noun or pronoun) capable of referring to either sex, as… …   From formal English to slang

  • epicene — adjective Etymology: Middle English, from Latin epicoenus, from Greek epikoinos, from epi + koinos common more at co Date: 15th century 1. of a noun having but one form to indicate either sex 2. a. having characteristics typical of the other sex… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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