1. Something brought about by a cause or agent; a result.
2. The power to produce an outcome or achieve a result: The government's action had little effect on the trade imbalance.
3. Advantage; avail: used her words to great effect in influencing the jury.
4. The condition of being in full force or execution; operativeness: a new regulation that goes into effect tomorrow.
a. Something that produces a specific impression or supports a general design or intention: The lighting effects emphasized the harsh atmosphere of the drama.
b. A particular impression: large windows that gave an effect of spaciousness.
c. Production of a desired impression: spent lavishly on dinner just for effect.
6. The basic or general meaning; import: He said he was greatly worried, or words to that effect.
7. effects Movable belongings; goods.
tr.v. ef·fect·ed, ef·fect·ing, ef·fectsIdioms:
To bring about; make happen; cause or accomplish: effect a cure for a disease; effect a change in policy. See Usage Note at affect1.
In essence; to all purposes: testimony that in effect contradicted her earlier statement.
to the effect that
With the general meaning that: He said something to the effect that he was sorry.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin effectus, from past participle of efficere, to accomplish : ex-, ex- + facere, to make; see dhē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: effect, consequence, result, outcome, upshot
These nouns denote an occurrence, situation, or condition that is produced by a cause or agent. Effect stresses the idea of influence or alteration: a drug whose main effect is to lower hypertension; increased erosion that was the effect of deforestation.
A consequence follows naturally or logically from its cause: a broken wrist that was the consequence of a fall; a reduction in crime that was the consequence of better policing.
A result is viewed as the end product of the operation of the cause: improved his grades as a result of better study habits; an experiment with an unexpected result.
An outcome more strongly implies finality and may suggest the resolution of a complex or lengthy process: The trial's outcome might have changed if the defendant had testified.
An upshot is a decisive result, often of the nature of a climax: "The upshot of the matter ... was that she showed both of them the door" (Robert Louis Stevenson).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.