AskDefine | Define effective

Dictionary Definition

effective adj
1 producing or capable of producing an intended result or having a striking effect; "an air-cooled motor was more effective than a witch's broomstick for rapid long-distance transportation"-LewisMumford; "effective teaching methods"; "effective steps toward peace"; "made an effective entrance"; "his complaint proved to be effectual in bringing action"; "an efficacious law" [syn: effectual, efficacious] [ant: ineffective]
2 able to accomplish a purpose; functioning effectively; "people who will do nothing unless they get something out of it for themselves are often highly effective persons..."-G.B.Shaw; "effective personnel"; "an efficient secretary"; "the efficient cause of the revolution" [syn: efficient]
3 works well as a means or remedy; "an effective reprimand"; "a lotion that is effective in cases of prickly heat"
4 exerting force or influence; "the law is effective immediately"; "a warranty good for two years"; "the law is already in effect (or in force)" [syn: good, in effect(p), in force(p)]
5 existing in fact; not theoretical; real; "a decline in the effective demand"; "confused increased equipment and expenditure with the quantity of effective work done"
6 equipped and ready for service; "the fort was held by about 100 effective soldiers"

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Having the power to produce an effect or effects.
  2. Producing a decided or decisive effect.
  3. Efficient, serviceable, or operative.
    • as an effective force, remedy, speech;
  4. Actually in effect.
    • The curfew is effective at midnight.


having the power to produce an effect or effects
  • Dutch: efficiënt
  • French: efficace
  • German: wirksam
  • Hungarian: hatásos, hatékony
producing a decided or decisive effect
  • French: efficace
  • German: wirksam
  • Greek: αποτελεσματικός
  • Hungarian: eredményes, célravezető
efficient, serviceable, or operative
actually in effect

Extensive Definition

Effectiveness means the capability of producing an effect.
In Physics, an effective theory is, similar to a phenomenological theory, a framework intended to explain certain (observed) effects without the claim that the theory correctly models the underlying (unobserved) processes. An example is an effective field theory that "pretends" that certain effects are caused by a field even if it is known that this is not actually the case. In a way, any theory of Physics is fundamentally an effective theory, since there is no meaningful distinction of observables and reality within the scope of Physics (see also FAPP, cogito ergo sum, Phenomenalism, Pragmatism).
The word effective is sometimes used in a quantitative way, "being very or not much effective". However it does not inform on the direction (positive or negative) and the comparison to a standard of the given effect. Efficacy, on the other hand, is the ability to produce a desired amount of the desired effect, or success in achieving a given goal. Contrary to efficiency, the focus of efficacy is the achievement as such, not the resources spent in achieving the desired effect. Therefore, what is effective is not necessarily efficacious, and what is efficacious is not necessarily efficient.
An ordinary way to distinguish among effectiveness, efficacy, and efficiency:
  • efficiency: doing things "right", i.e. in the best and most economical way
  • efficacy: getting things done, i.e. meeting immediate targets
  • effectiveness: doing "right" things, i.e. setting right targets to achieve an overall goal (the effect)
  • (effectivity: mostly synonym to effectiveness; usage is rather rare)

See also

For the medical meaning of 'effectiveness', see discussion at efficacy.
effective in Czech: Efektivita
effective in German: Effektivität
effective in Lithuanian: Veiksmingumas
effective in Portuguese: Efetividade
effective in Thai: ประสิทธิภาพ

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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