Definition of effect in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈfekt/


1A change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause: the lethal effects of hard drugs politicians really do have some effect on the lives of ordinary people
More example sentences
  • The result has a direct effect on the finished product, which is read by the public.
  • Central to that argument was that cannabis had a different effect from hard drugs such as cocaine or heroin.
  • There are most likely two factors - apart from voter apathy - which have a significant effect on the poll results.
end result, conclusion, culmination, corollary, concomitant, aftermath;
fruit(s), product, by-product, payoff;
Medicine  sequela
1.1The state of being or becoming operative.
Example sentences
  • Controversial proposals to switch the school year from three terms to six are now virtually certain to take effect across Hampshire.
  • The revisions take effect from this week, says a bank press release.
  • The parameters of the agreement are due to be specified by mid-April so that the agreement can take effect in late April.
force, operation, enforcement, implementation, effectiveness;
validity, lawfulness, legality, legitimacy
come into force, come into operation, become operative, begin, become valid, become law, apply, be applied
work, act, be effective, produce results
1.2The extent to which something succeeds or is operative: wind power can be used to great effect
More example sentences
  • The German Luftwaffe exercised their doctrine of joint operations in support of ground forces to great effect.
  • There is also a fair amount of clever wordplay, delivered rapid-fire to great effect.
  • The cinematography is astonishing, almost monochrome, capturing the darkness at the heart of the story, using close ups to great effect.
1.3 [with modifier] Physics A physical phenomenon, typically named after its discoverer: the Doppler effect
More example sentences
  • Heinrich Hertz discovered the photoelectric effect, so called because it was caused by light rays, in 1887.
  • Atomic beams can act like light waves and exhibit all of the classic wave effects, like interference and refraction.
  • The energies are just right inside stars, thanks to an unusual quantum effect known as a resonance.
1.4An impression produced in the mind of a person: gentle music can have a soothing effect
More example sentences
  • All very understandable, but the effect on the impressionable minds of our intellectual class has been deleterious.
  • He pointed out that material of that sort could have an effect on impressionable minds.
  • Another marine did his best to sneer and look down his nose, though the effect was hardly impressing.
impact, action, effectiveness, influence;
power, potency, strength;
formal efficacy
2 (effects) The lighting, sound, or scenery used in a play, movie, or broadcast: the production relied too much on spectacular effects
More example sentences
  • There are some great moments in this film featuring multiple directional effects and surround sounds.
  • Those technicians would endeavour to provide the particular sound or lighting effects instructed by the promoter.
  • Several reviews have not been kind to the film's effects, particularly the creatures summoned by the game.
3 (effects) Personal belongings: the insurance covers personal effects
More example sentences
  • Then, after that, we had to bring all of her clothes and personal effects out of storage.
  • Packing up his personal effects and bringing them home was the most upsetting thing I've ever had to do.
  • There, he discovers boxes of personal effects, including the pulp literature of his youth.


[with object]
Cause (something) to happen; bring about: nature always effected a cure budget cuts that were quietly effected over four years
More example sentences
  • He even stated that he need not name every disease or body part, that God's power was effecting a multitude of cures all over the arena.
  • The acceptances were effected by the execution of the acceptance forms.
  • So the parliament is stacked against any possibility of really effecting the kind of security, peace and economic policies that I believe in.
achieve, accomplish, carry out, realize, manage, bring off, execute, conduct, engineer, perform, do, perpetrate, discharge, complete, consummate;
provoke, occasion, generate, engender, actuate, initiate
formal effectuate


For the differences in use between effect and affect, see affect1 (usage).



come into effect

Become operative; start to apply: similar legislation came into effect in Wales on the same date the Kyoto Protocol officially came into effect last week
More example sentences
  • Thirty two years ago, Majority Rule came into effect.
  • The new rule by the order of Franciscan monks in Croatia comes into effect from this weekend.
  • The ban on fox hunting with dogs finally comes into effect.

for effect

In order to impress people: I suspect he’s controversial for effect
More example sentences
  • So many writers in this country are just working for effect and impressions as opposed to good, solid narrative.
  • But most of what they do is minimal in terms of harm while maximising a particular impression for effect.
  • If anything, he should be brought in wearing prison garb, perhaps in shackles, just for effect.

in effect

In operation; in force: a moratorium in effect since 1985 has been lifted
More example sentences
  • My computer is informing me that legal locks are in effect and I can't fire my gun.
  • I find that she was fully aware that the contract was in effect and binding on her.
  • Stephenson, on the other hand, thought that a contract must be in effect during the transfer.
3.1Used to convey that something is the case in practice even if it is not formally acknowledged to be so: additional payments that are in effect an entrance tax
More example sentences
  • To adopt the petitioner's approach allows me to in effect reassess the costs of the motion.
  • There was no argument about that, that it was not a payment, in effect, by the company.
  • An inflexible rule protecting such uses would in effect allow the creation of servitudes.
really, in reality, in truth, in fact, in actual fact, effectively, essentially, in essence, practically, to all intents and purposes, all but, as good as, more or less, almost, nearly, just about
informal pretty much
literary well-nigh, nigh on

put (or bring or carry) something into effect

Cause something to apply or become operative: they succeeded in putting their strategies into effect
More example sentences
  • Legislatures from Hawaii to Massachusetts to North Carolina are taking serious steps toward putting Election Day registration into effect.
  • Your Executors are responsible for making sure your Will is put into effect.
  • Sentence of death by fire was given on October 26th, to be carried into effect on the following day.

take effect

Become operative; start to apply: the ban is to take effect in six months
More example sentences
  • The plan calls for most of the changes to take effect May 1.
  • New Hampshire's law legalizing gay marriage took effect Friday.
  • The order for forced time off takes effect next Friday.

to the effect that

Used to refer to the general sense of something written or spoken: some comments to the effect that my essay was a little light on analysis
More example sentences
  • Somwhere on this chain a comment was made to the effect that we were becoming a service oriented economy.
  • I've left a comment to the effect that I can't see how they'd be much use in moving people around a city.
  • There's a Japanese saying to the effect that if you do a favor for someone you must humbly apologize, because you have caused them to lose face.

to that effect

Having that result, purpose, or meaning: she thought it a foolish rule and put a notice to that effect in a newspaper
More example sentences
  • Also shops and other organisations offering a discount should be displaying a notice to that effect.
  • We have received notice to that effect and I am just looking at the transcript of the last occasion.
  • If he elects to become the holder he shall give notice to the company to that effect.
sense, meaning, theme, drift, import, intent, intention, tenor, significance, message;
gist, essence, spirit


Late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin effectus, from efficere 'accomplish', from ex- 'out, thoroughly' + facere 'do, make'. sense 3 of the noun, 'personal belongings', arose from the obsolete sense 'something acquired on completion of an action'.

  • Effect ‘result, consequence’ from Latin effectus, from efficere ‘accomplish, work out’, formed from ex- ‘out, thoroughly’ and facere ‘do’. Its negative is defect (Late Middle English), while deficit (late 18th century) is from Latin deficit ‘it is lacking’, from the verb deficere. The Latin word was used formerly in inventories to record what was missing. Feckless (late 16th century) ‘lacking in efficiency or vitality’ is based on Scots and northern English dialect feck, a shortening of effeck, a variant of effect.

Words that rhyme with effect

affect, bisect, bull-necked, collect, confect, connect, correct, defect, deflect, deject, detect, direct, eject, elect, erect, expect, infect, inflect, inject, inspect, interconnect, interject, intersect, misdirect, neglect, object, perfect, project, prospect, protect, reflect, reject, respect, resurrect, sect, select, subject, suspect, transect, unchecked, Utrecht

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ef·fect

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