I have always struggled with this. Consider the following statement:

Format string before insert into database else return unaffected string

Would I use unaffected or uneffected in this sentence?


  • 'Uneffected' adjective: not effected; not settled or established
  • 'Unaffected' adjective: unpretentious, natural, or sincere
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    Unaffected : Not changed, modified, or affected. (AHD) thefreedictionary.com/unaffected – user66974 Aug 11 '15 at 18:20
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    Uneffected would mean not brought about (not caused to happen). Presumably the string does exist so it must have been effected at some point. – Avon Aug 11 '15 at 18:25
  • I probably shouldn't muddy the waters, but in the case where formatting the string effects the string (settles or establishes it for some purpose or in the context of some process not mentioned in the sentence you give), 'uneffected' might mean more precisely what you intend. Here as everywhere, context is paramount. In isolation, 'unaffected' seems (much) more likely to reflect your intended meaning. – JEL Aug 11 '15 at 19:48
  • @JEL this is why I was asking, as it happens the string wasn't created by the condition, it was changed; I think (for what its worth) you are right. :) – Edward Aug 11 '15 at 20:08

'Unaffected' means 'unchanged, uninfluenced, untouched'.

Examples of 'affected'and 'unaffected': 1. Apply the antiseptic cream to the affected area of your skin. 2. She remained unaffected by her husband's death, and carried on as normal. 3. There were floods all around us, but we weren't affected, because we are on higher ground.



"Unaffected" has the same etymological root than the french word affectation which is used in computer science when assigning a value to a variable. The word "affectation" has also another sense related to a pretentious, unnatural or not sincere behavior.

Then "unaffected" is synonym of "unassigned".

  • Just so I am clear is it possible to restructure the sentence to use uneffected? – Edward Aug 11 '15 at 18:23
  • When a procedure of a computer program returns a "null" value, you may say that the returned value is "unaffected", i.e. not assigned. – Graffito Aug 11 '15 at 18:27
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    @Edward no; "uneffected" is simply the wrong word for your sentence. – Hellion Aug 11 '15 at 18:37

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