This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. See our privacy statement
World Wide Words logo

Muliebrious

Pronounced /ˌmjuːlɪˈɛbriəs/Help with IPA

I found this rare word — meaning effeminate — this week in S M Stirling’s book The Sky People, though he spells it slightly differently: “The muliebrous features could have been man or woman or creature from the stories his grandmother had told.”

His spelling has been used by others but mine is that in the Oxford English Dictionary, which has just one example, from 1652. It’s not quite that rare, though one has to search around for instances. It appeared in an article, The Industrial Value of Woman (a title that would today raise eyebrows) in The North American Review in 1882, in which the author wrote of a muliebrious or over-feminine woman.

Its companion adjective is muliebral, characteristic of women or womanhood, which lacks the other’s negative implications and which featured in the magazine The World & I in 1995: “Muller and Gillis represent the vibrant and irresistible muliebral force that has been weaving its way through the dance world for the last twenty years.”

Both derive from the classical Latin muliebris, womanly, which is from mulier, a woman. The latter is also the source of the even rarer and long obsolete legal term mulier that describes a child born in wedlock and so legitimate, and of the rather more common muliebrity, womanhood or femininity.

Page created 10 Feb. 2007

Support World Wide Words.

Donate by selecting your currency and clicking the button.


Buy anything from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you.

Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-mul2.htm
Last modified: 10 February 2007.