effective

adjective
ef·​fec·​tive | \ i-ˈfek-tiv How to pronounce effective (audio) , 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 How to pronounce effectivity (audio) , 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 May, 2018, the country held its first parliamentary elections since 2009, raising public hopes of more effective governance. Jane Ferguson, The New Yorker, "Why Lebanon’s People Are Turning on Their Politicians," 12 July 2019 When engineered by Big Tech, these interfaces train our bodies to be more effective cogs within dynamic corporate data systems. Vanessa Chang, WIRED, "How Phone Taps and Swipes Train Us to Be Better Consumers," 10 July 2019 And some treatments work for tough-to-reach body parts better than others, while some are more effective for specific areas. Kaitlin Clark, Allure, "5 New Body-Contouring Procedures Plastic Surgeons Can't Stop Talking About," 9 July 2019 Her typical second serve proved more effective than Ms Williams’s comparably cautious offerings. J.s., The Economist, "Cori Gauff announces herself at Wimbledon," 2 July 2019 The Copyright Office hopes to have a pilot of a digital recordation process available to a small sample of registrants in the early spring 2020, which will provide feedback to make the system more effective for its wide rollout. Ed Christman, Billboard, "House Judiciary Hearing on Copyright Office Reviews Music Modernization Act, Black Box Royalty Concerns," 26 June 2019 Kiva is another backer of Libra, no doubt hoping to make its lending even more effective by directly transferring money from donors and investors to its entrepreneurs. Nir Kshetri, Quartz India, "Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Libra, could be a boon for developing nations like India," 26 June 2019 Confusing correlation and causation AI is excellent at finding correlations within data that are difficult for humans to detect, a skill that can be used to hone in on the causes of disease and help to develop more effective medicines. STAT, "What if AI in health care is the next asbestos?," 19 June 2019 One important key is that most hospitals can't successfully end diversion on their own; coordinated strategies, in which medical centers in the same area work together to solve overcrowding issues, tend to be more effective. Barbara Brody, Health.com, "'Hospital Diversion' Is Perfectly Legal and Putting People at Risk. Here's What You Need to Know," 27 June 2019

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

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

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Statistics for effective

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

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 How to pronounce effective (audio) \

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 How to pronounce effective (audio) \

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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