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  • "How to enact change in..."
  • "We enacted change by..."

I've seen this used in quite a few contexts, but it doesn't seem to make much sense when I look at the word "enact" in the dictionary.

From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of enact

1: to establish by legal and authoritative act specifically : to make into law enact a bill

2: ACT OUT enact a role

Looking at an n-gram, its use is non-zero and growing, but nowhere near the usage of the phrase "effect change". ngram of the term "enact change"

Typically when I've seen it used, it indicates that a someone is effecting a change, but from a dictionary sense, does the phrase "enact change" make sense? My thought is no, but I'm looking for a reality check on it to make sure I'm not misinterpreting the dictionary entries.

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    It makes sense. Read the first definition again, only not so literally.
    – Hot Licks
    May 28, 2020 at 16:07
  • I guess you're right, I was reading it too literally in the legal sense of it. Thanks for your feedback!
    – Meow_ly
    May 28, 2020 at 16:08

2 Answers 2

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Wiktionary (and, I'd guess, OED) is the best here:

enact ...

  1. (transitive, law) to make (a bill) into law
  2. (transitive) to act the part of; to play
  3. (transitive) to do; to effect

though it's even more highfalutin' than effect. I'd use 'bring about'. These Google Ngrams would indicate that 'effect change' surprisingly (to me) rivals 'bring about change' in writing, while 'enact change' is rarefied.

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Change is a verb. Making it a noun and adding another verb to it is an abomination, regardless of whether or not the verb is appropriate. I would advise:

Change things

Why is it an abomination? Because the purpose of language is to communicate ideas clearly. Unless, of course, you are writing poetry; but I doubt that this is poetry.

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