• adjective effeminate. The adjective, based on the earlier noun form, became fairly widespread in the late 1990s.
  • noun an ineffectual, weak, effete or sentimental person. Often given more emphasis by phrases like ‘big soft nellie’ or ‘great wet nellie’. Nellie was used until the late 1940s in the USA and Britain as a humorous or contemptuous appellation for a male homosexual.
  • noun in the phrase ‘not on your nellie’, the word was originally from Nelly duff, an invented name providing a rhyme for puff in the sense of breath, hence life
  • noun a fat and/or dowdy female. The pejorative term, used by adolescents, may derive from the 1950s children’s song Nellie the Elephant.