side effect

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side effect (plural side effects)

  1. An unintended consequence, or secondary result, of any action, in addition to the main or intended consequence of that action.
    • 1987, Brundtland Report:
      The processing of certain raw materials - pulp and paper, oil, and alumina, for example - can have substantial environmental side effects.
    • 1980, Advanced Automation for Space Missions:
      A side effect of this architecture (which was designed only for efficient fabrication) is that it also performs automated repair.
    • 2007, Sylvia Escott-Stump, Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care[1]:
      Useful for mild depression but may trigger coronary problems. A positive side effect is that it may actually help with degenerative joint disease symptoms.
  2. (medicine) An adverse effect, an unintended consequence of a drug or therapy; usually not a beneficial effect.
  3. (programming) A change in state caused by a function call.
    The Eiffel programming language is somewhat purist in insisting that functions have no side effects.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Adjectives often applied to "side effect": mild, moderate, serious, severe, dangerous, unpleasant, debilitating, negative, positive, nasty, bad, horrible, terrible, painful, unexpected, unintended, strong, obvious, etc.


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