ef·​fect | \ i-ˈfekt How to pronounce effect (audio) , e-, ē-, ə- \
plural effects

Definition of effect

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that inevitably follows an antecedent (such as a cause or agent)
2a : a distinctive impression the color gives the effect of being warm
b : the creation of a desired impression her tears were purely for effect
c(1) : something designed to produce a distinctive or desired impression usually used in plural
(2) effects plural : special effects
3 : the quality or state of being operative : operation the law goes into effect next week — see also take effect
4 : power to bring about a result : influence the content itself of television … is therefore less important than its effectCurrent Biography — see also take effect
5 effects plural : movable property : goods personal effects
6 : an outward sign : appearance
8a : purport, intent
b : basic meaning : essence
in effect
: in substance : virtually the … committee agreed to what was in effect a reduction in the hourly wageCurrent Biography
to the effect
: with the meaning issued a statement to the effect that he would resign


effected; effecting; effects

Definition of effect (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to come into being
2a : to bring about often by surmounting obstacles : accomplish effect a settlement of a dispute
b : to put into operation the duty of the legislature to effect the will of the citizens

Choose the Right Synonym for effect


perform, execute, discharge, accomplish, achieve, effect, fulfill mean to carry out or into effect. perform implies action that follows established patterns or procedures or fulfills agreed-upon requirements and often connotes special skill. performed gymnastics execute stresses the carrying out of what exists in plan or in intent. executed the hit-and-run discharge implies execution and completion of appointed duties or tasks. discharged his duties accomplish stresses the successful completion of a process rather than the means of carrying it out. accomplished everything they set out to do achieve adds to accomplish the implication of conquered difficulties. achieve greatness effect adds to achieve an emphasis on the inherent force in the agent capable of surmounting obstacles. effected sweeping reforms fulfill implies a complete realization of ends or possibilities. fulfilled their ambitions

Effect vs. Affect: Usage Guide


Effect and affect are often confused because of their similar spelling and pronunciation. The verb affect entry 2 usually has to do with pretense. she affected a cheery disposition despite feeling down The more common verb affect entry 1 denotes having an effect or influence. the weather affected everyone's mood The verb effect goes beyond mere influence; it refers to actual achievement of a final result. the new administration hopes to effect a peace settlement The uncommon noun affect, which has a meaning relating to psychology, is also sometimes mistakenly used for the very common effect. In ordinary use, the noun you will want is effect. waiting for the new law to take effect the weather had an effect on everyone's mood

Examples of effect in a Sentence

Noun The nation's most solvent individuals—private-equity barons—have not been immune from the ill effects of the credit crunch. — Daniel Gross, Newsweek, 3 Mar. 2008 In the Spanish conquest of the Incas, guns played only a minor role.  … They did produce a big psychological effect on those occasions when they managed to fire. — Jared M. Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel, 1997 Economic effects of such high speed change are also unpredictable and somewhat chilling … — Genevieve Stuttaford, Publisher's Weekly, 29 July 1996 Unlike the venom of coral snakes, fer-de-lance venom has no direct effect on the nervous system but digests muscle, destroys blood cells and causes hemorrhaging and massive edema (swelling). — Robert K. Colwell, Natural History, April 1985 He now needs more of the drug to achieve the same effect. The experience has had a bad effect on him. Computers have had a profound effect on our lives. The effects of the drug soon wore off. This treatment causes fewer ill effects. The change in policy had little effect on most people. He was able to stop taking the drug without ill effect. The total effect of the painting was one of gloom. The color gives the effect of being warm. He achieves amazing effects with wood. Verb As the whole progress of mathematics from its ancient simplicities to what we call its "higher" modern developments has been effected by assuming impossibilities and inconceivabilities, your line of argument does not seem to me conclusive. — Bernard Shaw circa 4 Nov. 1932, in Collected Letters: 1926–19501988 When, at last, rescue is at hand, Jewitt has no hesitation in lying to his old friend and master, Maquinna, in order to effect his escape, although he does persuade the captain of the brig Lydia not to kill the chief. — Carolyn Kizer, New York Times Book Review, 21 Feb. 1988 I had just written the Gossets that your address was Drujon Lane, so I would be obliged if you would drop them a card and tell them your release has been effected. — Flannery O'Connor, The Habit of Being, 1979 Hitherto, while gathering up the discourse of Mr. Brocklehurst and Miss Temple, I had not, at the same time, neglected precautions to secure my personal safety; which I thought would be effected, if I could only elude observation. — Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847 They are trying to effect a settlement of the dispute. The duty of the legislature is to effect the will of the people. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Cunningham proposed instituting a 72-year-old age limit for South Carolina politicians, a retirement bar already in effect for the state’s judges, and one that would take a constitutional amendment, approved by voters, to implement. Meg Kinnard, BostonGlobe.com, 22 June 2022 Last, the retainer agreements often state something to the effect that the advisor is not providing tax or accounting advice. Daniel Mayo, Forbes, 21 June 2022 Health experts say introducing too much fiber sourced within chia seeds overnight could lead to the exact opposite effect and may cause further constipation. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, 21 June 2022 Alabama’s crossover voting rule is in effect for the runoff. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, 20 June 2022 Heat advisories were still in effect for parts of the coastal Carolinas, the Deep South, the Ozarks and the central Plains, but alerts had been dropped over the Midwest and parts of the Tennessee Valley. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, 17 June 2022 An excessive heat warning is in effect for parts of California and Arizona, where highs will again soar into the triple digits. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 16 June 2022 Flood watches are in effect for parts of Washington, northern Idaho and northwest Montana. Steve Strouss, NBC News, 13 June 2022 The outlook is in effect for East Central and Southeast Indiana; Northeast and Northern Kentucky and Central, South Central, Southwest and West Central Ohio. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 13 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of effect


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 8a


1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for effect


Middle English effect, effete "achievement, result, capacity to produce a result, gist, purpose," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French effette, effect, borrowed from Latin effectus "carrying out (of a purpose or task), result, mode of operation," from effec-, variant stem of efficere "to make, construct, bring about, produce, carry out" (from ef-, assimilated form of ex- ex- entry 1 + facere "to do, make, bring about") + -tus, suffix of action nouns — more at fact


in part verbal derivative of effect entry 1, in part borrowed from Latin effectus, past participle of efficere "to make, bring about" — more at effect entry 1

Learn More About effect

Time Traveler for effect

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near effect




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for effect

Last Updated

25 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Effect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/effect. Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for effect


ef·​fect | \ i-ˈfekt How to pronounce effect (audio) \

Kids Definition of effect

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an event, condition, or state of affairs that is produced by a cause : influence Computers have had an important effect on the way people work.
2 : the act of making a certain impression The tears were only for effect.
3 : execution sense 2, operation The law goes into effect today.
4 effects plural : personal property or possessions household effects
5 : something created in film, television, or radio to imitate something real sound effects
in effect
: in actual fact The suggestion was in effect an order.


effected; effecting

Kids Definition of effect (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make happen : bring about effect a change


ef·​fect | \ i-ˈfekt How to pronounce effect (audio) \

Medical Definition of effect

: something that is produced by an agent or cause obtained the same effect with a smaller dose



Legal Definition of effect

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that is produced by an agent or cause
2 plural : personal property sense 1 at property : goods the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizuresU.S. Constitution amend. IV
3 : the quality or state of being operative when the new law goes into effect


transitive verb

Legal Definition of effect (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to cause to come into being
2 : to bring about often by surmounting obstacles effect a settlement of the dispute
3 : to put into operation the duty of the legislature to effect the will of the citizens

More from Merriam-Webster on effect

Nglish: Translation of effect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of effect for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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