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impact, affect

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Here’s another one of those fancy words many people misuse. Traditionally, the word impact served as a noun, but recently it has transformed into a trendy verb. Technically, impact as a verb has been around for several hundred years. Originally, it meant “to fix or pack in.” Then it acquired a transitive meaning of “striking with great force.”

But now many business people, academics, governmental officials, and others use impact to mean “affect.” Many of them have changed the word into an intransitive verb and use the expression impact on.

The use of impact as a verb sets the teeth of usage panels on edge. Fully 95% of most panels disapprove of the use of impact to mean “affect.”

Perhaps many people turned to impact simply because they didn’t know the differences between affect and effect.

Regardless of the reason for its emergence, careful writers stay away from the trendy impact and use affect when they mean, well, affect or influence.

See affect, effect.

Example: According to leading economists, recent changes in fiscal policy will affect the economy. The greatest impact, they predicted, will occur in the housing market.

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