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

  • adjective Having an intended or expected effect.
  • adjective Producing a strong impression or response; striking.
  • adjective Operative; in effect.
  • adjective Existing in fact; actual.
  • adjective Prepared for use or action, especially in combat.
  • noun A soldier or a piece of military equipment that is ready for combat.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Serving to effect the intended purpose; producing the intended or expected effect or result; operative; efficacious: as, an effective cause; effective proceedings.
  • Capable of producing effect; fit for action or duty; adapted for a desired end: as, the effective force of an army or of a steam-engine is so much; effective capacity.
  • Serving to impress or affect with admiration; producing a decided impression of beauty or a feeling of admiration at the first presentation; impressive; striking; specifically, artistically strong or successful: as, an effective performance; an effective picture.
  • Actual; real.
  • noun The number of men actually doing duty, or the strength of a company, a regiment, or an army, in the field or on parade.
  • noun A soldier fit for duty.

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

  • adjective Having the power to produce an effect or effects; producing a decided or decisive effect; efficient; serviceable; operative
  • noun That which produces a given effect; a cause.
  • noun One who is capable of active service.
  • noun (Com.) Specie or coin, as distinguished from paper currency; -- a term used in many parts of Europe.
  • noun The serviceable soldiers in a country; an army or any military body, collectively.

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

  • adjective Having the power to produce a required effect or effects.
  • adjective Producing a decided or decisive effect.
  • adjective Efficient, serviceable, or operative, available for useful work.
  • adjective Actually in effect.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective able to accomplish a purpose; functioning effectively
  • adjective existing in fact; not theoretical; real
  • adjective ready for service
  • adjective works well as a means or remedy
  • adjective producing or capable of producing an intended result or having a striking effect
  • adjective exerting force or influence


Sorry, no etymologies found.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word effective.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "If, as some environmentalists demand, it is to happen worldwide, then much of the arable surface of the planet will be deployed to produce food for cars, not people. The market responds to money, not need. People who own cars - by definition - have more money than people at risk of starvation: their demand is effective, while the groans of people at risk of the starving are not. In a contest between cars and people, the cars would win. Something rather like this is happening already. Though 800 million people are permanently malnourished, the global increase in crop production is being used mostly to feed animals: the number of livestock on earth has quintupled since 1950. The reason is that those who buy meat and dairy products have more purchasing power than those who buy only subsistence crops."

    - 'Heat', George Monbiot.

    February 19, 2008

  • See usage note at affect.

    June 28, 2011

  • WORD: effective


    ' This rambling introduction is four times as long as the most efficient, effective piece of writing in the history of the English-speaking world, which was Abraham Lincoln's address on the battlefield at Gettysburg. '

    1999 KURT VONNEGUT. God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian. "Introduction" (Page 16).

    September 9, 2013