from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Something brought about by a cause or agent; a result.
  • noun The power to produce an outcome or achieve a result.
  • noun Advantage; avail.
  • noun The condition of being in full force or execution; operativeness.
  • noun Something that produces a specific impression or supports a general design or intention.
  • noun A particular impression.
  • noun Production of a desired impression.
  • noun The basic or general meaning; import.
  • noun Movable belongings; goods.
  • transitive verb To bring about; make happen; cause or accomplish.
  • idiom (in effect) In essence; to all purposes.
  • idiom (to the effect that) With the general meaning that.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In art, an accidental or unusual combination of colors, lights, or forms which especially excite the interest of a painter and form a suitable motive or key in painting or etching.
  • To produce as a result; be the cause or agent of; bring about; make actual; achieve: as, to effect a political revolution, or a change of government.
  • To bring to a desired end; bring to pass; execute; accomplish; fulfil: as, to effect a purpose, or one's desires.
  • Synonyms To realize, fulfil, complete, compass, consummate; Affect, Effect. See affect.
  • Execute, Accomplish, etc. See perform.
  • noun That which is effected by an efficient cause; a consequent; more generally, the result of any kind of cause except a final cause: as, the effect of heat.
  • noun Power to produce consequnces or results; force; validity; account: as, the obligation is void and of no effect.
  • noun Purport; import or general intent: as, he immediately wrote to that effect; his speech was to the effect that, etc.
  • noun A state or course of accomplishment or fulfilment; effectuation; achievement; operation: as, to bring a plan into effect; the medicine soon took effect.
  • noun Actual fact; reality; not mere appearance: preceded by in.
  • noun Mental impression; general result upon the mind of what is apprehended by any of the faculties: as, the effect of a view, or of a picture.
  • noun pl. [After F. effets, effects, chattels, effets mobiliers, movable property; cf. effect, a bill, bill of exchange, effets publics, stocks, funds.] Goods; movables; personal estate.
  • noun The conclusion; the dénouement of a story.
  • noun Goods, Chattels, etc. See property.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Execution; performance; realization; operation.
  • noun Manifestation; expression; sign.
  • noun In general: That which is produced by an agent or cause; the event which follows immediately from an antecedent, called the cause; result; consequence; outcome; fruit.
  • noun Impression left on the mind; sensation produced.
  • noun Power to produce results; efficiency; force; importance; account.
  • noun Consequence intended; purpose; meaning; general intent; -- with to.
  • noun The purport; the sum and substance.
  • noun Reality; actual meaning; fact, as distinguished from mere appearance.
  • noun Goods; movables; personal estate; -- sometimes used to embrace real as well as personal property.
  • noun for an exaggerated impression or excitement.
  • noun in fact; in substance. See 8, above.
  • noun destitute of results, validity, force, and the like; vain; fruitless.
  • noun to make valid; to carry out in practice; to push to its results.
  • noun to become operative, to accomplish aims.
  • transitive verb To produce, as a cause or agent; to cause to be.
  • transitive verb To bring to pass; to execute; to enforce; to achieve; to accomplish.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The result or outcome of a cause. See usage notes below.
  • noun cinematography An illusion produced by technical means (as in "special effect")
  • noun An alteration in sound after it has been produced by an instrument.
  • noun A device for producing an alteration in sound produced by an instrument.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin effectus, from past participle of efficere, to accomplish : ex-, ex- + facere, to make; see dhē- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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


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  • So it is deemed better to classify in accordance with the function or effect it is known a means _must_ perform or accomplish than in accordance with the _object_ with respect to which an act or acts are directed or in accordance with some _effect_ which may or may not result.

    The Classification of Patents United States Patent Office

  • An effect being _defined_ as something subsequent to its cause, obviously we can have no _effect_ upon the past.

    Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays Bertrand Russell 1921

  • The Cause of any event, then, when exactly ascertainable, has five marks: it is (quantitatively) _equal_ to the effect, and (qualitatively) _the immediate, unconditional, invariable antecedent of the effect_.

    Logic Deductive and Inductive Carveth Read 1889

  • He must study the nature of the effect he is to produce, and of the materials upon which he is to work, and adopt, after mature deliberation, a plan to accomplish his purpose, founded upon the principles which ought always to regulate the action of mind upon mind, and adapted to produce the _intellectual effect_, which he wishes to accomplish.

    The Teacher Or, Moral Influences Employed in the Instruction and Government of the Young Jacob Abbott 1841

  • Given an effect to be accounted for, and there being several causes which might have produced it, but of the presence of which in the particular case nothing is known; the probability that the effect was produced by any one of these causes _is as the antecedent probability of the cause, multiplied by the probability that the cause, if it existed, would have produced the given effect_.

    A System Of Logic, Ratiocinative And Inductive John Stuart Mill 1839

  • Both of these would have the effect of extremely diminishing the _effect_ of the measure in Ireland.

    Memoirs of the Court of George IV. 1820-1830 (Vol 1) From the Original Family Documents Richard Plantagenet Temple Nugent Brydges Chandos Grenville Buckingham and Chandos 1829

  • If it were proper to be rigorous in examining trifles, it might be replied, that Shakespeare would write more erroneously, if he wrote by the direction of this critick; they were not _distilled_, whatever the word may mean, _by the effect of fear_; for that _distillation_ was itself the _effect_; _fear_ was the cause, the active cause, that _distilled_ them by that force of operation which we strictly call _act_ involuntary, and _power_ in involuntary agents, but popularly call _act_ in both.

    Notes to Shakespeare, Volume III: The Tragedies Samuel Johnson 1746

  • In that way I discern the power of each thing, and that is the same power which produces the same effect, and that is a different power which produces a different effect_. "[

    Christianity and Greek Philosophy or, the relation between spontaneous and reflective thought in Greece and the positive teaching of Christ and His Apostles 1852

  • "As to Mr Oswald's offer to make an acknowledgment of our independence the first article of our treaty, and your Excellency's remark, that it is sufficient, and that _we are not to expect the effect before the cause_, permit us to observe, that by the _cause_, we suppose, is intended the _treaty_, and by the _effect_, an acknowledgment of our independence.

    The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. VIII Jared Sparks 1827

  • What a model program like Globaloria and others like it shows us, in effect, is that kids don't need to wait for Superman.

    Idit Harel Caperton: Waiting for Cupid (not Superman) Idit Harel Caperton 2010

  • The IKEA effect is a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created

    The IKEA effect - Dimitris Karapanos 2023

  • Consider the “grandpa effect,” as he called it: people who were mistaken for bots because they used social media in “uncool or gauche” ways, he said.

    Who’s a Bot? Who’s Not? By 2020

  • While the Tetris effect may have started out with a phenomenon identified from heavy video game use, the Tetris effect is now used to describe instances when people devote so much time and attention to something that it begins to dominate and alter their thoughts, perceptions and dreams.

    How to Use the Tetris Effect to Invite Positivity Back into Your Life, Despite Chronic Illness Sheryl Chan 2022

  • The emotional impact of seeing Earth from a distance is called the “overview effect,” and while everyone experiences it differently, it often manifests as a kind of sorrow and loneliness mitigated by a feeling of community and solidarity with all that remains on Earth.

    Opinion | Try Living in Elon Musk’s Company Town By 2024

  • When a change initially made for people with specific disadvantages ends up making a lot of people’s lives better, that’s the Curb Cut Effect.

    What Ignoring the Disability Community Costs Hollywood Kerry McLaughlin 2020


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  • Trip up amateur grammar nazis with its more obscure meaning.

    November 17, 2007

  • Use this incorrectly and you'll often be labeled illiterate.

    December 20, 2009

  • See usage note at affect.

    June 28, 2011

  • Don't fear "effect" as a verb. To "affect" is to influence; to "effect" is to bring about. "Effect" something and you can take the credit.

    September 12, 2011