effete [ɪˈfit] a.
1.) Of animals: That has ceased to bring forth offspring. Obs.
2.) transf. Of material substances: That has lost its special quality or virtue; exhausted, worn out.
3.) fig. Of persons in an intellectual sense, of systems, etc.: That has exhausted its vigour and energy; incapable of efficient action. Also, of persons: weak, ineffectual; degenerate. More recently, effeminate (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).
Etymology: Latin effetus, worn out, exhausted: ex- + fetus, bearing young, pregnant.
"Such a Hyper-magical is this our poor old Real world; which some take upon them to pronounce effete, prosaic! Friend, it is thyself that art all withered up into effete Prose, dead as ashes: know this (I advise thee); and seek passionately, with a passion little short of desperation, to have it remedied" (Diamond Necklace, Thomas Carlyle, 1837).
Note: this word does not mean sophisticated or snobbish. This is a misuse due to its similarity to the words "elite" and "effeminate". (As you can see above, even the O.E.D. is beginning to yield to the misuse.) This confusion has led Bryan A. Garner to declare "effete" a "skunked term", saying: "as with other skunked terms, the thing to do is simply to avoid using it" (Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd Ed.). I'm going to use it in a thesis chapter, though, (in the proper way) and see if my Professor comments on it. Thanks for reading!