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[ih-fish-uh nt] /ɪˈfɪʃ ənt/
performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort; having and using requisite knowledge, skill, and industry; competent; capable:
a reliable, efficient assistant.
satisfactory and economical to use:
Our new air conditioner is more efficient than our old one.
producing an effect, as a cause; causative.
utilizing a particular commodity or product with the least waste of resources or effort (usually used in combination):
a fuel-efficient engine.
Origin of efficient
1350-1400; Middle English (< Middle French) < Latin efficient- (stem of efficiēns), equivalent to ef- ef- + fic-, combining form of facere to make, do1 + -ent- -ent
Related forms
efficiently, adverb
nonefficient, adjective
nonefficiently, adverb
quasi-efficient, adjective
quasi-efficiently, adverb
superefficient, adjective
unefficient, adjective
1. effectual. See effective. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for efficient
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Why did not your most efficient employers dispatch an ordinary assassin?

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • What this efficient cause is, is a question that awakens no responsive inquiry.

    Life: Its True Genesis R. W. Wright
  • And all your Science you have turned to the efficient slaughter of men.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • Thus we are led forward always from facts to their efficient causes.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • Certainly, they115 are not so efficient as those of the older country; how could they be?

    Culture and Cooking Catherine Owen
British Dictionary definitions for efficient


functioning or producing effectively and with the least waste of effort; competent
(philosophy) producing a direct effect; causative
Derived Forms
efficiently, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Latin efficiēns effecting
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 efficient

"capable of producing the desired effect," late 14c., "making, producing immediate effect," from Old French efficient and directly from Latin efficientem (nominative efficiens) "effective, efficient, producing, active," present participle of efficere "work out, accomplish" (see effect). Meaning "productive, skilled" is from 1787. Related: Efficiently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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