1

effective

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

Definition of effective

  1. 1 a :  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. 2 :  ready for service or action <effective manpower>

  3. 3 :  actual <the need to increase effective demand for goods>

  4. 4 :  being in effect :  operative <the tax becomes effective next year>

  5. 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 4

effectiveness

noun

effectivity

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

Examples of effective in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. It's a simple but effective technique.

  5. He gave an effective speech.

Comparing efficient, effective, and proficient

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.

Origin and Etymology of effective

(see 1effect)


First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of effective

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>.

2

effective

play
noun ef·fec·tive \i-ˈfek-tiv, e-, ē-, ə-\

Definition of effective

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

Origin and Etymology of effective

(see 1effect)


First Known Use: 1722



EFFECTIVE Defined for English Language Learners

1

effective

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

Definition of effective for English Language Learners

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

  • of a law, rule, etc. : in use

  • : starting at a particular time


EFFECTIVE Defined for Kids

effective

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

Definition of effective for Students

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

  2. 2 :  impressive <an effective speech>

  3. 3 :  being in operation <The rule is effective immediately.>

effectively

adverb

effectiveness

noun

Word Root of effective

The Latin word facere, meaning “to make” or “to do,” and its form factus give us the roots fic, fact, and fect. Words from the Latin facere have something to do with making or doing something. To manufacture is to make goods. This is often done in a factory. Something difficult is hard to do. Anything effective does what it is meant to do.


Medical Dictionary

effective

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

Medical Definition of effective

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

effectively

adverb

effectiveness

noun

Law Dictionary

effective

adjective ef·fec·tive

Legal Definition of effective

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

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

  3. 3 :  being in effect

  4. 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

effectiveness

noun


Seen and Heard

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

an alert or lookout

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • alphabet-magnets
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ