effect

1 of 2

noun

ef·​fect i-ˈfekt How to pronounce effect (audio)
e-,
ē-,
ə-
plural effects
1
: something that inevitably follows an antecedent (such as a cause or agent)
2
a
: a distinctive impression
the color gives the effect of being warm
b
: the creation of a desired impression
her tears were purely for effect
c(1)
: something designed to produce a distinctive or desired impression
usually used in plural
(2)
effects plural : special effects
3
: the quality or state of being operative : operation
the law goes into effect next week
see also take effect
4
: power to bring about a result : influence
the content itself of television … is therefore less important than its effect Current Biography
see also take effect
5
effects plural : movable property : goods
personal effects
6
: an outward sign : appearance
7
8
b
: basic meaning : essence

effect

2 of 2

verb

effected; effecting; effects

transitive verb

1
: to cause to come into being
2
a
: to bring about often by surmounting obstacles : accomplish
effect a settlement of a dispute
b
: to put into operation
the duty of the legislature to effect the will of the citizens
Effect vs. Affect: Usage Guide

Effect and affect are often confused because of their similar spelling and pronunciation. The verb affect entry 2 usually has to do with pretense.

she affected a cheery disposition despite feeling down

The more common verb affect entry 1 denotes having an effect or influence.

the weather affected everyone's mood

The verb effect goes beyond mere influence; it refers to actual achievement of a final result.

the new administration hopes to effect a peace settlement

The uncommon noun affect, which has a meaning relating to psychology, is also sometimes mistakenly used for the very common effect. In ordinary use, the noun you will want is effect.

waiting for the new law to take effect
the weather had an effect on everyone's mood

Phrases
in effect
: in substance : virtually
the … committee agreed to what was in effect a reduction in the hourly wage Current Biography
to the effect
: with the meaning
issued a statement to the effect that he would resign
Choose the Right Synonym for effect

perform, execute, discharge, accomplish, achieve, effect, fulfill mean to carry out or into effect.

perform implies action that follows established patterns or procedures or fulfills agreed-upon requirements and often connotes special skill.

performed gymnastics

execute stresses the carrying out of what exists in plan or in intent.

executed the hit-and-run

discharge implies execution and completion of appointed duties or tasks.

discharged his duties

accomplish stresses the successful completion of a process rather than the means of carrying it out.

accomplished everything they set out to do

achieve adds to accomplish the implication of conquered difficulties.

achieve greatness

effect adds to achieve an emphasis on the inherent force in the agent capable of surmounting obstacles.

effected sweeping reforms

fulfill implies a complete realization of ends or possibilities.

fulfilled their ambitions

Example Sentences

Noun The nation's most solvent individuals—private-equity barons—have not been immune from the ill effects of the credit crunch. Daniel Gross, Newsweek, 3 Mar. 2008 In the Spanish conquest of the Incas, guns played only a minor role.  … They did produce a big psychological effect on those occasions when they managed to fire. Jared M. Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel, 1997 Economic effects of such high speed change are also unpredictable and somewhat chilling … Genevieve Stuttaford, Publisher's Weekly, 29 July 1996 Unlike the venom of coral snakes, fer-de-lance venom has no direct effect on the nervous system but digests muscle, destroys blood cells and causes hemorrhaging and massive edema (swelling). Robert K. Colwell, Natural History, April 1985 He now needs more of the drug to achieve the same effect. The experience has had a bad effect on him. Computers have had a profound effect on our lives. The effects of the drug soon wore off. This treatment causes fewer ill effects. The change in policy had little effect on most people. He was able to stop taking the drug without ill effect. The total effect of the painting was one of gloom. The color gives the effect of being warm. He achieves amazing effects with wood. Verb As the whole progress of mathematics from its ancient simplicities to what we call its "higher" modern developments has been effected by assuming impossibilities and inconceivabilities, your line of argument does not seem to me conclusive. Bernard Shaw circa 4 Nov. 1932, in Collected Letters: 1926–19501988 When, at last, rescue is at hand, Jewitt has no hesitation in lying to his old friend and master, Maquinna, in order to effect his escape, although he does persuade the captain of the brig Lydia not to kill the chief. Carolyn Kizer, New York Times Book Review, 21 Feb. 1988 I had just written the Gossets that your address was Drujon Lane, so I would be obliged if you would drop them a card and tell them your release has been effected. Flannery O'Connor, The Habit of Being, 1979 Hitherto, while gathering up the discourse of Mr. Brocklehurst and Miss Temple, I had not, at the same time, neglected precautions to secure my personal safety; which I thought would be effected, if I could only elude observation. Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847 They are trying to effect a settlement of the dispute. The duty of the legislature is to effect the will of the people. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The Biden administration plans to keep the COVID-19 public health emergency in effect until April, according to sources who spoke with Reuters. Aidin Vaziri, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Nov. 2022 Lows tonight will be much milder than the past two nights, when there were freeze warnings in effect for part of the state. Leigh Morgan, al, 14 Nov. 2022 An estimated 33 restrictive voting laws in 20 states were in effect for this year’s midterms, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Christina A. Cassidy And Gary Fields, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Nov. 2022 An estimated 33 restrictive voting laws in 20 states were in effect for this year’s midterms, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Gary Fields, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Nov. 2022 Although Thursday’s softening Venus-Neptune trine is in effect, don’t drop your guard entirely. The Astrotwins, ELLE, 13 Nov. 2022 Freeze warnings were in effect Saturday morning for millions of people in the South, from Texas to Alabama. Claire Thornton, USA TODAY, 12 Nov. 2022 That stay remains in effect while the court considers whether to impose a more significant preliminary injunction. Adam S. Minsky, Forbes, 11 Nov. 2022 In the Douglas Basin the controls remain in effect. Jake Frederico, The Arizona Republic, 11 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'effect.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English effect, effete "achievement, result, capacity to produce a result, gist, purpose," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French effette, effect, borrowed from Latin effectus "carrying out (of a purpose or task), result, mode of operation," from effec-, variant stem of efficere "to make, construct, bring about, produce, carry out" (from ef-, assimilated form of ex- ex- entry 1 + facere "to do, make, bring about") + -tus, suffix of action nouns — more at fact

Verb

in part verbal derivative of effect entry 1, in part borrowed from Latin effectus, past participle of efficere "to make, bring about" — more at effect entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 8a

Verb

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of effect was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near effect

Cite this Entry

“Effect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/effect. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

effect 1 of 2

noun

ef·​fect i-ˈfekt How to pronounce effect (audio)
1
: an event, condition, or state of affairs that is produced by a cause
2
: influence entry 1 sense 1
the effect of climate on growth
3
plural : personal property or possessions
household effects
4
: the act of making a particular impression
talked merely for effect
5
: execution sense 1, operation
the law went into effect today
in effect
: in actual fact
the suggestion was in effect an order

effect

2 of 2

verb

: bring about, accomplish
effect a change
effecter noun

Medical Definition

effect

noun

ef·​fect i-ˈfekt How to pronounce effect (audio)
: something that is produced by an agent or cause
obtained the same effect with a smaller dose

Legal Definition

effect 1 of 2

noun

ef·​fect
1
: something that is produced by an agent or cause
2
plural : personal property sense 1 at property : goods
the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures U.S. Constitution amend. IV
3
: the quality or state of being operative
when the new law goes into effect

effect

2 of 2

transitive verb

1
: to cause to come into being
2
: to bring about often by surmounting obstacles
effect a settlement of the dispute
3
: to put into operation
the duty of the legislature to effect the will of the citizens

More from Merriam-Webster on effect

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