Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-fekt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To cause to happen, to make (something) come about.

Notes: Affect and effect are two verbs so similar in sound and meaning as to land them on our Often Confused Words list. What you need to remember is that the one beginning in [a] is defined in terms of the one beginning in [e]: affect "to have an effect", as in "Words affect the way we think". To effect means "to cause", as "to effect radical changes in the way we do things."

In Play: Here are a couple of sentences that demonstrate the difference between these two confusing verbs: "Nothing Ivan Odor said seemed to affect Leticia romantically, so he resorted to flowers to express his affection. The flowers from Ivan effected a change of heart in Leticia that eventually led to their engagement."

Word History: Today's Good Word started out as Latin effectus, the past participle of efficere "to accomplish", based on ex- "out of" + facere "to make". The root fac- in Latin, which also gave us fact, feature, feat, and dozens of other words, goes back to the PIE root *dhe-/*dho- "put, set", which also evolved through Old Germanic into English do and such of its relatives as deed (thing done) and doom (done in?) The name of the Russian parliament, the Duma (where very little gets done), actually is a descendant of *dho-, via dumat' "to think" (possibly an even a worse connotation).

Dr. Goodword,

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