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ef·​fect i-ˈfekt How to pronounce effect (audio)
plural effects
: something that inevitably follows an antecedent (such as a cause or agent) : result, outcome
the effects of the policy
the health effects of exercise
a cumulative effect
a cause and effect relationship
suffered no ill effects from the treatment
My comment had the effect of ending the conversation.
The pitcher used her slider to good/great effect. [=with a good/great result]
They've complained many times, to little/no effect.
: a distinctive impression
The color gives the effect of warmth.
: the creation of a desired impression
Her tears were purely for effect.
: something designed to produce a distinctive or desired impression: such as
: something that alters an artistic work in order to enhance the illusion of reality or heighten dramatic appeal
usually used in plural
the play's use of lighting effects
We're grateful that the movie doesn't try … to inflate its simple narrative with grandiose action-movie effects.Terrence Rafferty
see also sound effects, special effects
: something that alters a sung, played, or recorded sound in order to produce a desired quality
usually used in plural
As you arrange your samples, you can add effects like reverb, raise or lower the tempo or even run the sample backward.N'gai Croal and Walaika Haskins
: the quality or state of being operative : operation
The parking ban is no longer in effect.
The law goes into effect next week.
No coastal warnings or watches were put into effect.Associated Press
The Government intends to pass legislation giving effect to the reforms …Thomas Coughlan
see also take effect
: power to bring about a result : influence
The content itself of television … is therefore less important than its effectCurrent Biography
see also take effect
effects plural : movable property : goods
household effects
see also personal effects
: an outward sign : appearance
… his sufferings, instead of exciting their compassion, have been celebrated as the visible effects of divine justice.Edward Gibbon
: a goal or purpose : end
Before the bond issue can move ahead, City Council must approve the cooperation agreement. Legislation to that effect was introduced this week.Mark Belko
I desire simply to be quit of you; and to that effect, I put a boat and complement of men at your disposal.Robert Louis Stevenson
Is all our travail turn'd to this effect?Shakespeare

see also auger effect, bandwagon effect, bohr effect, butterfly effect, coriolis effect, domino effect, doppler effect, edge effect, founder effect, greenhouse effect, hall effect, halo effect, hawthorne effect, lake effect, nocebo effect, photoelectric effect, placebo effect, position effect, ripple effect, side effect, zeeman effect


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effected; effecting; effects

transitive verb

: to cause to come into being
: to bring about often by surmounting obstacles : accomplish
effect a settlement of a dispute
: 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

in effect
: in substance : virtually
the … committee agreed to what was in effect a reduction in the hourly wageCurrent 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

Examples of effect in a Sentence

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Now, multiply that effect by 10, by 100, by 1,000 even. Dylan Hernández, Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2024 Bitter melon has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention. Lindsey Desoto, Health, 15 July 2024 Paul is also credited with helping pioneer several recording techniques, including delay effects, phasing, and overdubbing. Troy Smith, Axios, 15 July 2024 Many home testers continued reporting back on the performance and effects of the humidifiers over several months. Laura Lu, Ms, Parents, 15 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for effect 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'effect.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


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


2 of 2 verb
: bring about, accomplish
effect a change
effecter noun

Medical Definition


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


1 of 2 noun
: something that is produced by an agent or cause
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 seizuresU.S. Constitution amend. IV
: the quality or state of being operative
when the new law goes into effect


2 of 2 transitive verb
: to cause to come into being
: to bring about often by surmounting obstacles
effect a settlement of the dispute
: 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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