"sure to have the desired effect" (often of medicines), 1520s, from Latin efficaci-, stem of efficax "powerful, effectual, efficient," from stem of efficere "work out, accomplish" (see effect (n.)) + -ous. Related: Efficaciously; efficaciousness.
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.
word-forming element making adjectives from nouns, meaning "having, full of, having to do with, doing, inclined to," from Old French -ous, -eux, from Latin -osus (compare -ose (1)). In chemistry, "having a lower valence than forms expressed in -ic."
D. Harper. “Etymology of efficacious.” Online Etymology Dictionary. https://www.etymonline.com/word/efficacious (accessed $(datetime)).
updated on December 12, 2016
Definitions of efficacious from WordNet
marked by qualities giving the power to produce an intended effect; "written propaganda is less efficacious than the habits and prejudices...of the readers"-Aldous Huxley;
the medicine is efficacious in stopping a cough
producing or capable of producing an intended result or having a striking effect; "an air-cooled motor was more effective than a witch's broomstick for rapid long-distance transportation"-LewisMumford;