• Effect


    • IPA: /ɪˈfÉ›kt/
    • Rhymes: -É›kt


    For noun: from Old French effect (French: effet), from Latin effectus (""), from efficiō ("accomplish, complete, effect"); see effect as a verb.

    For verb: from Latin effectus, perfect passive participle of efficiō ("accomplish, complete, do, effect"), from ex ("out") + faciō ("do, make"); see fact and compare affect, infect.

    Full definition of effect



    (countable and uncountable; plural effects)
    1. The result or outcome of a cause. See usage notes below.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, The Celebrity Chapter 1, The stories did not seem to me to touch life. They were plainly intended to have a bracing moral effect, and perhaps had this result for the people at whom they were aimed.
      • 1963, Margery Allingham, The China Governess Chapter 1, The half-dozen pieces … were painted white and carved with festoons of flowers, birds and cupids.   The bed was the most extravagant piece.  Its graceful cane halftester rose high towards the cornice and was so festooned in carved white wood that the effect was positively insecure, as if the great couch were trimmed with icing sugar.
      • 2013-06-08, Obama goes troll-hunting, The solitary, lumbering trolls of Scandinavian mythology would sometimes be turned to stone by exposure to sunlight. Barack Obama is hoping that several measures announced on June 4th will have a similarly paralysing effect on their modern incarnation, the patent troll.
    2. The effect of the hurricane was a devastated landscape.
    3. Impression left on the mind; sensation produced.
      • J. C. Shairppatchwork ... introduced for oratorical effect
      • Washington IrvingThe effect was heightened by the wild and lonely nature of the place.
    4. (filmology) An illusion produced by technical means (as in "special effect")
      The effect of flying was most convincing.
    5. (sound engineering) An alteration in sound after it has been produced by an instrument.
      I use an echo effect here to make the sound more mysterious.
    6. (sound engineering) A device for producing an alteration in sound produced by an instrument.
      I just bought a couple of great effects.
    7. Execution; performance; realization; operation.
      • ShakespeareThat no compunctious visitings of nature
        Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
        The effect and it.
      1. (uncountable) The state of being binding and enforceable, as in a rule, policy, or law.
        The new law will come into effect on the first day of next year.
    8. (physics, psychology, etc.) A scientific phenomenon, usually named after its discoverer.
      Doppler effect
    9. (usually plural) Belongings, usually as personal effects.
    10. Consequence intended; purpose; meaning; general intent; with to.
      • Bible, Chron. xxxiv. 22They spake to her to that effect.
    11. (obsolete) Reality; actual meaning; fact, as distinguished from mere appearance.
      • Denhamno other in effect than what it seems
    12. (obsolete) Manifestation; expression; sign.
      • ShakespeareAll the large effects
        That troop with majesty.

    Usage notes

    The words “affect” and “effect” can both be used as nouns or verbs, but when used as a noun the word affect is limited to uses in the psychology field, and the above definitions for effect are much more common. See also the usage notes as a verb below.

    Adjectives often applied to "effect":

    biological, chemical, cultural, economic, legal, mental, moral, nutritional, personal, physical, physiological, political and social

    actual, bad, beneficial, catastrophic, deleterious, disastrous, devastating, fatal, good, harmful, important, intended, likely, natural, negative, positive, potential, primary, real, secondary, significant, special, strong, undesirable and weak


    1. To make or bring about; to implement.The best way to effect change is to work with existing stakeholders.
    2. Misspelling of affect

    Usage notes

    Effect is often confused with “affect”. The latter is used to convey the influence over existing ideas, emotions and entities; the former indicates the manifestation of new or original ideas or entities:

    “...new governing coalitions have effected major changes” indicates that major changes were made as a result of new governing coalitions.

    “...new governing coalitions have affected major changes” indicates that before new governing coalitions, major changes were in place, and that the new governing coalitions had some influence over these existing changes.

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