For every man with his affects is born, / Not by might mast'red, but by special grace.—William Shakespeare
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
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between affect and effect?
Both affect and effect can function as a noun or a verb. However, affect is most often found as a verb (“to produce an influence upon or alteration in”), and effect as a noun ("a change that results when something is done or happens”). For example, we can say that something that affects a person has an effect on them.
What is the difference between affection and affectation?
The more familiar word, affection, in modern use most often means "a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something." Affectation may be defined as "speech or conduct not natural to oneself," as in "He was born and raised in Baltimore, so his British accent seemed like an affectation."
Is affect a noun or a verb?
Affect is both a noun and a verb, but the verb is far more common; it means "to act on or change someone or something," as in "The change will affect everyone." The noun affect is used primarily in psychology contexts to refer to the facial expressions, gestures, postures, vocal intonations, etc., that typically accompany an emotion, as in "The patient had a flat affect."
counterfeit implies achieving the highest degree of verisimilitude of any of these words.
an actor counterfeiting drunkenness
sham implies an obvious falseness that fools only the gullible.
shammed a most unconvincing limp
Verb (1)As strange as this sounds, the negative karma probably affected the actual games, the way a gambler who constantly dwells on his bad luck can derail an entire blackjack table.—Bill Simmons, ESPN, 24 June 2002The Paris adventures of various Russians, including a romance for Dontsov, affect both the newly democratized ones and hard-line party members.—Stanley Kauffmann, New Republic, 27 Feb. 1995These programs, known as secret warranties or silent recalls, often involve a problem that affects a vehicle's safety or performance but that isn't the cause of a formal Federal recall.—Consumer Reports, December 1993Verb (2)She pauses and affects the more dramatic tone of a veteran actress.—Chris Mundy, Rolling Stone, 15 June 1995She doesn't put herself down, but she does affect a languid Valley Girl drawl to offset the sharpness of her observations …—Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly, 7 Oct. 1994That is all I have, I said, affecting a pathos in my voice.—Flann O'Brian, At Swim-Two-Birds, 1939NounThere's a good plot and good writing here, but Mallory's gender neutrality, conspicuous in her lack of affect, makes her seem like a comic-book character.—Cynthia Crossen, Wall Street Journal, 5 Oct. 1994Many of these young killers display an absence of what psychiatrists call affect. They show no discernible emotional reaction to what they have done.—Richard Stengel, Time, 16 Sept. 1985The way people respond to this is sometimes called "depressed affect"—a sort of mental shifting into neutral that psychologists say also happens to prisoners of war, submarine crews, and other people in confined situations with little stimulus.—Susan West, Science 84, January/February 1984See More
Recent Examples on the Web
When environmental events like the Woodbury Fire and Hurricane Lorena affect Forest Service land, a protocol needs to be followed, Blake said.—Shanti Lerner, The Arizona Republic, 24 Jan. 2023 The 49-page audit found the top two reasons a vehicle gets towed — registrations expired longer than six months, and violations of the 72-hour parking rule on many city streets — typically affect low-income people more than others.—San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Jan. 2023 Researchers also found some sedentary behavior can positively affect cognitive stimulation, including reading and working, as opposed to watching television.—Brian Bushard, Forbes, 23 Jan. 2023 Americans frequent affect people’s behaviors and fears about visiting them, said Louis Klarevas, a professor at the Teachers College at Columbia University who researches mass shootings.—Praveena Somasundaram, Washington Post, 23 Jan. 2023 But Papantoniou notes that relying on a dishwasher can contribute to the build-up of residual coffee oils, which can affect taste over time.—Sarah Wharton, Good Housekeeping, 23 Jan. 2023 This is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates which shows how quickly foods affect blood sugar when eaten on their own.—Elizabeth Woolley, Verywell Health, 22 Jan. 2023 This should not be a problem in the long term for your tree unless the squirrels are able to really peel into the deeper areas of the bark and affect the cambium.—Tim Johnson, Chicago Tribune, 21 Jan. 2023 The storm is expected by Sunday night and will affect an interior swath of the northeast spanning from Pittsburgh to Maine.—Claire Thornton, USA TODAY, 21 Jan. 2023 See More
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'affect.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Middle English affecten, borrowed from Latin affectus, past participle of afficere "to produce an effect on, exert an influence on," from ad-ad- + facere "to do, make, bring about" — more at fact
Middle English affecten "to desire," borrowed from Anglo-French affeter, affecter "to change, seek after," borrowed from Latin affectāre "to try to accomplish, strive after, pretend to have," frequentative derivative of afficere "to produce an effect on, exert an influence on" — more at affect entry 1
Middle English, "capacity for emotion, emotion, desire, will," borrowed from Latin affectus "mental state, mood, feeling, affection," from afficere "to produce an effect on, exert an influence on" + -tus, suffix of verbal action — more at affect entry 1