efficient

adjective
ef·​fi·​cient | \ i-ˈfi-shənt \

Definition of efficient

1 : productive of desired effects especially : capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials) an efficient worker efficient machinery
2 : being or involving the immediate agent in producing an effect the efficient action of heat in changing water to steam

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Other Words from efficient

efficiently adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for efficient

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

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 efficient in a Sentence

Like a page-turner of a novel, [Nomar] Garciaparra keeps you eager to see what comes next, especially this season, when he will have the most efficient RBI machine in baseball, free-agent signee Manny Ramirez, riding shotgun with him. — Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, 5 Mar. 2001 Short and muscular, he is as efficient as a surgeon, cracking eggs with one hand and tossing the shells into the basket under the counter behind him without looking, flipping bread into the slots of a row of toasters, and literally throwing "to go" orders ten feet down the counter to the guy manning the cash register. — Paul Baumann, Commonweal, 18 July 1997 Wilde was wearing two emeralds,  … one on the little finger of each hand. That on the left was the efficient cause of all joys, that on the right of misfortunes. Asked why he continued to wear the one on the right, Wilde said, "One needs misfortunes to live happily." — Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, (1984) 1988 Originally designed for the preparation of desserts, the woks eventually proved their versatility as efficient vessels for stir-frying, deep-frying, and the reduction of liquids. — Kemp Miles Minifie, Gourmet, November 1988 that manual lawn mower is not a very efficient tool for doing a huge yard
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Recent Examples on the Web

Auburn was more efficient and balanced than the Ole Miss game, when Brown fired up 19 3s. John Zenor, The Seattle Times, "Harper, No. 11 Auburn rebound with 93-78 win over Georgia," 12 Jan. 2019 Avrame says their homes are more efficient and maintain heat better than traditional A-frames thanks to durable structural insulated panels. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Affordable A-frame house can be built by just two people," 11 Jan. 2019 The False Claims Act is widely regarded as an efficient and effective tool for rooting out health-care fraud. WSJ, "We’re Using, Not Abusing, Whistleblower Act," 10 Jan. 2019 One is intuitive: fast, efficient and quick to jump to conclusions. Galadriel Watson, Discover Magazine, "Why We Feel the Need to Knock On Wood," 17 Oct. 2018 There are whole outfits suggested for specific campus activities, rendering the shopping process as efficient and idly thrilling as taking a BuzzFeed quiz in the back of a lecture hall. Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox, "Victoria’s Secret has a new app, designed to build a nationwide sorority around buying underwear," 15 Oct. 2018 Because of the small size of each bungalow, the design had to be efficient and the layout needed to flow well. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Three San Diego Bungalows Are Transformed Into Vibrant, History-Filled Getaways," 3 Oct. 2018 To techy types, this seems much more efficient and futuristic. The Economist, "The future of food, served up right here in augmented reality," 7 July 2018 Experts say blockchain technology — a highly efficient and ultra-secure list of records that can grow continuously — will one day transform how to access untold services online, like banking, trade and insurance. Rebecca Lurye, courant.com, "Meet The Chinese Media Tycoon Behind West Hartford's Tech Hub," 4 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'efficient.' 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 efficient

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for efficient

Middle English, "active, immediate (of a cause)," borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Latin efficient-, efficiens "producing or giving rise to something, immediate (of a cause), active," from present participle of efficere "to make, bring about, produce, carry out" — more at effect entry 1

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Statistics for efficient

Last Updated

20 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for efficient

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

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More Definitions for efficient

efficient

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of efficient

: capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy

efficient

adjective
ef·​fi·​cient | \ i-ˈfi-shənt \

Kids Definition of efficient

: capable of bringing about a desired result with little waste (as of time or energy) an efficient worker

Other Words from efficient

efficiently adverb

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Comments on efficient

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