The Alternative English Dictionary: affect

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Entry definition

etymology 1 From Middle French affecter, French affecter, and its source, the participle stem of Latin afficere, from ad- + facere. pronunciation
  • {{enPR}}, /əˈfɛkt/
  • {{audio}}
  • {{rhymes}}
verb: {{en-verb}}
  1. (transitive) To influence or alter. The experience affected me deeply. The heat of the sunlight affected the speed of the chemical reaction.
    • Macaulay The climate affected their health and spirits.
    • {{quote-magazine}}
  2. (transitive) To move to emotion. He was deeply affected by the tragic ending of the play.
    • Edmund Burke A consideration of the rationale of our passions seems to me very necessary for all who would affect them upon solid and pure principles.
  3. (transitive) Of an illness or condition, to infect or harm (a part of the body). Hepatitis affects the liver.
  4. (transitive, archaic) To dispose or incline.
    • Milton men whom they thought best affected to religion and their country's liberty
  5. (transitive, archaic) To tend to by affinity or disposition.
    • Newton The drops of every fluid affect a round figure.
  6. (transitive, archaic) To assign; to appoint.
    • Thackeray One of the domestics was affected to his special service.
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:
  • “ policies have effected major changes in government.”
  • “ policies have affected major changes in government.”
The former indicates that major changes were made as a result of new policies, while the latter indicates that before new policies, major changes were in place, and that the new policies 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. However, an effect is the result of an action (by something else).
Synonyms: (influence or alter) alter, change, have an effect on, have an impact on, influence, (move to emotion) move, touch, (infect) attack
etymology 2 From xno affecter, Middle French affecter, and their source, Latin affectāre, frequentative of afficere (see Etymology 1, above). pronunciation
  • {{enPR}}, /əˈfɛkt/
  • {{audio}}
  • {{rhymes}}
verb: {{en-verb}}
  1. (obsolete, transitive) To aim for, to try to obtain. {{defdate}}
    • Dryden This proud man affects imperial sway.
  2. (transitive, now rare) To feel affection for (someone); to like, be fond of. {{defdate}}
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, VI.10: From that day forth she gan to him affect, / And daily more her favour to augment […].
    • {{RQ:RBrtn AntmyMlncly}}, I.2.4.vii: A young gentlewoman in Basil was married…to an ancient man against her will, whom she could not affect; she was continually melancholy, and pined away for grief […].
    • 1663, Samuel Butler, , part 1, : But when he pleased to show 't, his speech / In loftiness of sound was rich; / A Babylonish dialect, / Which learned pedants much affect.
    • Fuller As for Queen Katharine, he rather respected than affected, rather honoured than loved, her.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To show a fondness for (something); to choose. {{defdate}}
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, III.9: Amongst humane conditions this one is very common, that we are rather pleased with strange things then with our owne; we love changes, affect alterations, and like innovations.
    • Shakespeare For he does neither affect company, nor is he fit for it, indeed.
    • Hazlitt Do not affect the society of your inferiors in rank, nor court that of the great.
  4. (transitive) To make a show of; to put on a pretence of; to feign; to assume. To make a false display of. {{defdate}} to affect ignorance He managed to affect a smile despite feeling quite miserable.
    • Congreve Careless she is with artful care, / Affecting to seem unaffected.
    • Shakespeare Thou dost affect my manners.
Synonyms: (make a false display of) fake, simulate, feign
etymology 3 Middle English affect, from Latin affectus, adfectus, from afficere pronunciation
  • {{enPR}}, /ˈæfɛkt/
noun: {{en-noun}}
  1. (obsolete) One's mood or inclination; mental state. {{defdate}}
  2. (obsolete) A desire, an appetite. {{defdate}}
  3. (psychology) A subjective feeling experienced in response to a thought or other stimulus; mood, emotion, especially as demonstrated in external physical signs. {{defdate}}
    • 1999, Joyce Crick, translating Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Oxford 2008, p. 62: if we are afraid of robbers in a dream, the robbers are certainly imaginary, but the fear is real. This draws our attention to the fact that the development of affects {{transterm}} in dreams is not amenable to the judgement we make of the rest of the dream-content [...].
    • 2004, Jeffrey Greenberg & Thomas A Pyszczynski, Handbook of Experimental Existential Psychology, p. 407: A third study demonstrated that the effects of self-affirmation on self-regulated performance were not due to positive affect.
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.
related terms:
  • affecter
  • affective
  • affection
  • affectionate

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