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Encyclopedia

When used as a descriptor or adjective, affect means a change, and usually refers to an emotion or symptom. Affected, when used in a description, refers to fake or intentionally assumed behaviour (a changed behaviour), i.e., an affected accent.

In general, to affect refers to the influence a change has on something else. In this sense, it is often confused with to effect, which generally means either "to cause/make/create a change" or to the result of a change. When used as a verb, "effect" refers to the cause of a change, or as a synonym for "created" or "made" ("The governor effected a change in policy"); while "affect" refers to the consequences of that change ("The new policy really affected our family").

As a noun, "affect" may refer to an emotion or to a psychological/psychiatric state (see below). As an adjective, it may refer to an assumed pretense: "Her affected accent really had an effect on me"; "Her affected accent really affected my view of her".

Affect may refer to:

See also

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Etymology 1

Latin affectus, pp. of afficere (to act upon", "influence", "affect", "attack with disease", lit. "to do to) < ad (to) + facere (to make).

Pronunciation

Verb

Infinitive
to affect

Third person singular
affects

Simple past
affected

Past participle
affected

Present participle
affecting

to affect (third-person singular simple present affects, present participle affecting, simple past and past participle affected)

  1. (transitive) To influence or alter.
    The experience affected me deeply.
    The heat of the sunlight affected the speed of the chemical reaction.
  2. (transitive) To move to emotion.
    He was deeply affected by the themes in the play.
  3. (transitive) Of an illness or condition, to infect or harm (a part of the body).
    Hepatitis affects the liver.
Usage notes

Affect and effect are sometimes confused. Affect conveys influence over something that already exists, but effect indicates the manifestation of new or original ideas or entities:

  • “...new governing coalitions during these realigning periods have effected major changes in governmental institutions.”
  • “...new governing coalitions during these realigning periods have affected major changes in governmental institutions.”

The former indicates that major changes were made as a result of new governing coalitions, while the latter indicates that before new governing coalitions, major changes were in place, and that the new governing coalitions had some influence over these existing changes.

The verbal noun uses of affect are distinguished from the verbal noun uses of effect more clearly than the regular verb forms. An affect is something that acts or acted upon something else. But an effect is the result of an action (by something else).

Synonyms
Derived terms
Translations
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Etymology 2

Middle English affecten < Old French affecter < Latin affectare (“to strive after a thing, aim to do, aspire to, pursue, imitate with dissimulation, feign; also, in pass., be attacked by disease”); frequentative of afficere (“to act upon, influence”).

Pronunciation

Verb

Infinitive
to affect

Third person singular
affects

Simple past
affected

Past participle
affected

Present participle
affecting

to affect (third-person singular simple present affects, present participle affecting, simple past and past participle affected)

  1. (transitive) To make a false display of.
    He managed to affect a smile despite feeling quite miserable.
Synonyms
Derived terms
Translations

Etymology 3

Middle English affect < Latin affectus, adfectus (a state of mind or body produced by some (external) influence, esp. sympathy or love) < afficere (to act upon, influence)

Pronunciation

  • enPR: ă'fĕkt, IPA: /ˈæfɛkt/, SAMPA: /"{fEkt/

Noun

Singular
affect

Plural
affects

affect (plural affects)

  1. (psychology) Emotion.
  2. (psychology) External display of emotion or mood.
    He seemed completely devoid of affect.
Usage notes

Affect and effect can both be used as nouns or verbs, but when used as a noun the word affect is limited to the above psychology uses and the definitions for effect are much more common. See also the usage notes as a verb above.

Derived terms
Related terms
Translations
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

References

  • affect in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • affect” in the Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper, 2001

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