mid-14c., "execution or completion (of an act)," from Old French efet (13c., Modern French effet) "result, execution, completion, ending," from Latin effectus "accomplishment, performance," from past participle stem of efficere "work out, accomplish," from assimilated form of ex "out" (see ex-) + combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). From French, borrowed into Dutch, German, Scandinavian.
From late 14c. as "power or capacity to produce an intended result; efficacy, effectiveness," and in astrology, "operation or action (of a heavenly body) on human affairs; influence." Also "that which follows from something else; a consequence, a result." From early 15c. as "intended result, purpose, object, intent." Also formerly with a sense of "reality, fact," hence in effect (late 14c.), originally "in fact, actually, really." Meaning "impression produced on the beholder" is from 1736. Sense in stage effect, sound effect, etc. first recorded 1881.