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  1. not effective; not producing results; ineffectual: ineffective efforts; ineffective remedies.
  2. inefficient or incompetent; incapable: an ineffective manager.
  3. lacking in artistic effect, as a literary work, theatrical production, or painting.
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Origin of ineffective

First recorded in 1645–55; in-3 + effective
Related formsin·ef·fec·tive·ly, adverbin·ef·fec·tive·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ineffective


  1. having no effect
  2. incompetent or inefficient
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Derived Formsineffectively, adverbineffectiveness, 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

Word Origin and History for ineffective


1650s, from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + effective. Related: Ineffectively; ineffectiveness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper