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[ih-fek-tiv] /ɪˈfɛk tɪv/
adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result:
effective teaching methods; effective steps toward peace.
actually in operation or in force; functioning:
The law becomes effective at midnight.
producing a deep or vivid impression; striking:
an effective photograph.
prepared and available for service, especially military service.
a member of the armed forces fit for duty or active service.
the effective total of a military force.
Origin of effective
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin effectīvus practical, equivalent to effect(us), past participle of efficere (see effect) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
effectively, adverb
effectiveness, effectivity, noun
preeffective, adjective
preeffectively, adverb
quasi-effective, adjective
quasi-effectively, adverb
subeffective, adjective
subeffectively, adverb
subeffectiveness, noun
supereffective, adjective
supereffectively, adverb
supereffectiveness, noun
uneffective, adjective
uneffectively, adverb
uneffectiveness, noun
Can be confused
affective, effective (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. capable, competent. Effective, effectual, efficacious, efficient refer to that which is able to produce a (desired) effect. Effective is applied to that which has the power to, or which actually does, produce an effect: an effective action, remedy, speech. Effectual is used especially of that which produces the effect desired or intended, or a decisive result: An effectual bombardment silenced the enemy. Efficacious suggests the capability of achieving a certain end: an efficacious plan, medicine. Efficient (applied also to persons) implies the skillful use of energy or industry to accomplish desired results with little waste of effort: efficient methods; an efficient manager. 2. operative. 3. telling.
1. futile, useless. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for effectives
Historical Examples
  • War had been revolutionised, and our old calculations of effectives and losses must go by the board.

    Sonia Married Stephen McKenna
  • As we had only seven effectives, and they had more than forty, it was no slight task.

    Marmaduke Merry William H. G. Kingston
  • His command was reduced to about three hundred effectives—the rest were suffering from the erisipelas.

  • By the returns, Cleburne's brigade was the largest, having 2,750 effectives.

    From Fort Henry to Corinth Manning Ferguson Force
  • His line of communication was in danger of being cut and his force had been reduced to about six thousand effectives.

    The Colonization of North America Herbert Eugene Bolton
  • The Southern army amounted to about seventeen hundred effectives.

  • Malcolm Carr was now in charge of a garrison of four effectives all told.

    A Lively Bit of the Front Percy F. Westerman
  • Of the rank and file Scott now had 8061 effectives and 2215 sick.

  • I have not twelve thousand effectives, and of these not nine thousand fit for duty.

    The Reckoning Robert W. Chambers
  • General Joffre replied by a rapid change in the position of his effectives.

British Dictionary definitions for effectives


productive of or capable of producing a result
in effect; operative: effective from midnight
producing a striking impression; impressive: an effective entrance
(prenominal) actual rather than theoretical; real: the effective income after deductions
(of a military force, etc) equipped and prepared for action
(physics) (of an alternating quantity) having a value that is the square root of the mean of the squares of the magnitude measured at each instant over a defined period of time, usually one cycle See also root mean square
a serviceman who is equipped and prepared for action
Derived Forms
effectively, adverb
effectiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for effectives



late 14c., from French effectif, from Latin effectivus "productive, effective," from effect-, stem of efficere (see effect (n.)). Effectively in the sense of "actually" is attested by 1650s. Related: Effectivity.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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