effective

adjective
ef·fec·tive | \ i-ˈfek-tiv , e- , ē- , ə- \

Definition of effective 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect an effective policy

b : impressive, striking a gold lamé fabric studded with effective … precious stones —Stanley Marcus

2 : being in effect : operative the tax becomes effective next year

3 : actual the need to increase effective demand for goods

4 : ready for service or action effective manpower

5 of a rate of interest : equal to the rate of simple interest that yields the same amount when the interest is paid once at the end of the interest period as a quoted rate of interest does when calculated at compound interest over the same period — compare nominal sense 4

effective

noun

Definition of effective (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that is effective (see effective entry 1) especially : a soldier equipped for duty

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Other words from effective

Adjective

effectiveness noun
effectivity \ˌe-ˌfek-ˈti-və-tē, i-, ē-, ə- \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for effective

Adjective

effective, effectual, efficient, efficacious mean producing or capable of producing a result. effective stresses the actual production of or the power to produce an effect. an effective rebuttal effectual suggests the accomplishment of a desired result especially as viewed after the fact. the measures to stop the pilfering proved effectual efficient suggests an acting or a potential for action or use in such a way as to avoid loss or waste of energy in effecting, producing, or functioning. an efficient small car efficacious suggests possession of a special quality or virtue that gives effective power. a detergent that is efficacious in removing grease

Comparing efficient, effective, and proficient

Adjective

These three words cover some overlapping territory.

Efficient most often describes what is capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy. While the word can be applied to both people and things, it is far more commonly applied to things, such as machines, systems, processes, and organizations. The focus of the word is on how little is wasted or lost while the desired results are produced.

Effective typically describes things—such as policies, treatments, arguments, and techniques—that do what they are intended to do. People can also be described as effective when they accomplish what they set out to accomplish, but the word is far more often applied to things.

Proficient typically describes people, and it often is followed by the preposition at. If you are proficient at something, you are very good at it. You are, in fact, so good at doing it that you are unusually efficient when you do it. One can also be proficient in something, such as a language.

Examples of effective in a Sentence

Adjective

These commercials were extremely effective as marketing tools, but we now know that chocolate swimming pools and candy-coating showers play no part in the manufacture of real M&M's. Instead, the ellipsoid chocolate centers of plain M&M's are formed by machines. —David Owen, Atlantic, October 1988 My feeling is that by waiting for the right moment to let rip, a film is infinitely more effective, especially with characters you have come to like. —Clive Barker, in Cinefantastique, September 1987 But Tammy's most effective remedy for stress, both then and now, was the same as Imelda Marcos's: shopping up a storm. "It's kind of a hobby to help my nerves," she explained … —Jean Seligman, Newsweek, 8 June 1987 It's a simple but effective technique. He gave an effective speech.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

And because the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominees, the most effective way to prevent disastrous judges from being appointed is to support and vote for senators who won’t confirm them. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "What You Can Do to Fight Brett Kavanaugh’s Appointment to the Supreme Court," 10 July 2018 If hazing is not effective and a coyote is showing aggressive behavior such as growling or snapping, remove yourself and your pet from the area and contact Milwaukee County Parks, police said. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wauwatosa Police warn of aggressive coyotes at Milwaukee County Grounds," 6 July 2018 The company has said repeatedly that Seroquel is acceptably safe and effective to treat conditions for which FDA approved it. Charles Piller, Science | AAAS, "Hidden conflicts? Pharma payments to FDA advisers after drug approvals spark ethical concerns," 5 July 2018 Aside from maybe your driveway, there aren't a lot of things in the average person's house where the coating would be both cost effective and safe. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "The Internet-demanded, partially scientific testing of Ultra-Ever Dry (in HD!)," 4 July 2018 In most cases, combining medication and cognitive behavioral modification treatment is recommended to teach adults effective ways to manage the persistent symptoms across the life span. Rene Hernandez-cardenache, Psy.d., M.s. Ed., miamiherald, "A focus on distraction: A closer look at adult ADHD," 2 July 2018 Jyn Erso will never replace those contractors, but Camarillo and Lynch hope this model could be used to develop technical capabilities within the Army that are both more cost effective and more responsive to soldiers' needs. Issie Lapowsky, WIRED, "The Pentagon Is Building a Dream Team of Tech-Savvy Soldiers," 2 July 2018 It was announced this morning that the FDA has approved Qbrexza (glycopyrronium) cloth as a safe and effective topical treatment for hyperhidrosis under the arms. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "The FDA Approves Qbrexza Wipes to Stop Excessive Underarm Sweating​​," 29 June 2018 Probing a partner’s weaknesses can be an effective way to get a better trade deal, according to game theory, the branch of mathematics that deals with strategy. Bloomberg.com, "Using Game Theory to Explain the U.S.-China Spat," 21 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of effective

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1708, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for effective

Adjective

see effect entry 1

Noun

see effect entry 1

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Phrases Related to effective

effective date

Statistics for effective

Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for effective

The first known use of effective was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for effective

effective

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of effective

: producing a result that is wanted : having an intended effect

of a law, rule, etc. : in use

: starting at a particular time

effective

adjective
ef·fec·tive | \ i-ˈfek-tiv \

Kids Definition of effective

1 : producing or able to produce a desired effect effective medicines

2 : impressive an effective speech

3 : being in operation The rule is effective immediately.

Other words from effective

effectively adverb
effectiveness noun

effective

adjective
ef·fec·tive | \ i-ˈfek-tiv \

Medical Definition of effective 

: producing a decided, decisive, claimed, or desired effect a drug judged effective by an evaluating panel

Other words from effective

effectively adverb
effectiveness noun

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effective

adjective
ef·fec·tive

Legal Definition of effective 

1 : producing a desired effect an effective revocation of the contract

2 : capable of bringing about an effect effective assistance of counsel — see also ineffective assistance of counsel

3 : being in effect

4 of a rate of interest : equal to the rate of simple interest that yields the same amount when the rate is paid once at the end of the interest period as a quoted rate of interest does when calculated at compound interest over the same period — compare nominal

Other words from effective

effectiveness noun

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Comments on effective

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