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

In particular, one of the variants of the original Spectre attacks has been shown to have greater applicability against AMD's latest processors than previously known; likewise the attack has also been shown to be effective against ARM processors. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Spectre, Meltdown researchers unveil 7 more speculative execution attacks," 14 Nov. 2018 The pocket-sized bag weighs less than 5 ounces, produces a machine-quality wash in three minutes, and is twice as effective as hand washing. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The ultimate van life shopping guide," 14 Nov. 2018 One good study among people with diabetes showed that IF was as effective as a conventional weight loss diet (but not better than) at controlling hemoglobin A1c, which is a marker of average blood sugar over the last few months. SELF, "What You Need to Know Before Trying Intermittent Fasting," 7 Nov. 2018 Especially if Seattle remembers to pack the running game that was so effective last week for the trip overseas. The Seattle Times, "Pick 'Em," 28 Oct. 2018 Both organizations urge everyone 6 months or older (with a few exceptions) to get a flu shot — at this point, the AAP recommends the shot over the FluMist nasal spray (LAIV4), which wasn't as effective as the shot last year. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "Flu Symptoms in Kids Come Suddenly, But You Can Act Fast If You Know What to Look For," 19 Oct. 2018 Studies show that tea tree oil can be just as effective as benzoyl peroxide at treating acne, but with fewer irritating side effects. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "Tea Tree Oil Is the Best Acne Spot Treatment for Sensitive Skin," 24 Sep. 2018 One study done by the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences found ginger to be as effective as ibuprofen for relieving menstrual cramps. Kara Wahlgren, Seventeen, "8 Ways to Make Your Cramps Suck Less," 6 Sep. 2018 The very same words could have been delivered by someone else and not have been as effective. Tom Hoffarth, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Only in Hollywood': How MLB Network Captures the Drama (and Humor) of the '88 Dodgers," 13 July 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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Statistics for effective

Last Updated

18 Nov 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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