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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • "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

  • 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)


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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