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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Studies show that the artificial intelligence can be as effective as a doctor at identifying symptoms. Corinne Abrams, WSJ, "Google’s Effort to Prevent Blindness Shows AI Challenges," 26 Jan. 2019 For the vast majority of crops, however, the urban farms weren't especially effective. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Urban farms could be incredibly efficient—but aren’t yet," 27 Dec. 2018 But the cost to their public reputation might be even more effective than the blow to their bank account. Loren Grush, The Verge, "FCC slams spaceflight company with $900,000 fine over illegal satellite launch," 20 Dec. 2018 That gives the newest Titan fewer total CUDA cores than its predecessor—the Titan V crammed in 5,120—but the Turing GPU’s CUDA cores are much more effective than the ones inside older Pascal GPUs. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Meet T-Rex: Nvidia's Titan RTX is the new graphics card mega-monster," 3 Dec. 2018 Until now, the quest for effective Alzheimer’s treatments has been marked by costly and high-profile failures. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, "A New Treatment for Alzheimer's? It Starts With Lifestyle," 16 Nov. 2018 Allergy-proof covers for objects like your mattress, comforter, and pillows can be very effective in protecting from allergens like dust mites, Taha Al-Shaikhly, M.D., an allergy and immunology fellow at UW Medicine, tells SELF. Colleen Stinchcombe, SELF, "13 Ways to Triumph Over Fall Allergies," 13 Nov. 2018 For teams lacking in that department, effective starters have become the best relievers. Brian Costa, WSJ, "The Latest Postseason Twist: Starting Pitchers That Double as Relievers," 8 Oct. 2018 But in fact, masks are some of the most effective ways to sink high levels of moisture into the skin—a good thing as seasonal humidity levels fall and complexions tend to become tight and flaky. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "10 Face Masks for Happier Skin Right Now," 28 Sep. 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.

See More

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

Middle English effectif, borrowed from Late Latin effectīvus "producing a result, efficient," going back to Latin, "involving an end product," from effectus, past participle of efficere "to make, bring about, produce, carry out" + -īvus -ive — more at effect entry 1

Noun

derivative of effective entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about effective

Statistics for effective

Last Updated

11 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for effective

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on effective

What made you want to look up effective? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

excited commotion or publicity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!