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10 Smashing Alternatives To The Word “Impactful”

The adjective impactful has been inspiring strong opinions since it was first coined in the 1960s. Impactful means “having or manifesting a great impact or effect.” Despite the criticism that it is an “improper” or “meaningless” word, it is in fact neither of these things. While the suffix -ful in English can often be used to mean “full of,” it can also mean “characterized by.” Impactful therefore is an adjective that describes something that has an impact.

It’s possible that part of the controversy around the word impactful has to do with the changing use of the word impact itself. The word impact has been used as a verb since the 1500s, if somewhat rarely. Some felt strongly that it should only be used as a noun. However, its use as a verb has greatly increased in modern years, along with its adjectival counterpart impactful. (You can read more about the changing use of impact in our Usage Note here.)

Of course, despite all the evidence that impactful is a perfectly fine word, it still can elicit a lot of emotions. A fair amount of people think impactful isn’t a real word—while many just think it just isn’t a very good one, often associating it with overused business jargon. So, there may be some situations where you may want to avoid using the word impactful all together.

And with this in mind, we have found some strong synonyms you can use instead of impactful. These will be helpful if you’re looking to avoid any controversy around your word choices.

Before we get into examples, there’s one important thing to remember when choosing synonyms for impactful. Sometimes impactful is used to describe how an outcome has been changed. For example, The most impactful step we took was shortening wait times. Other times, impactful is used to describe how emotions are affected. For example, After the impactful performance, the audience cried. You will want to pick the right synonym for the use of impactful you need. 

We are going to start with two examples that clearly show the two different kinds of synonyms for impactful. And if none of these options float your boat, or you are interested in hunting for more impactful synonyms, try our Grammar Coach™ synonym swapper.

effective

Effect and affect are two words that are commonly confused. Effect as a verb means “to produce as an effect, bring about.” The adjective form of the word, effective, means “producing the intended or expected result.” This is a suitable synonym for impactful in the sense of “having a great effect.” For example: 

 

  • I was shocked at how effective the new fertilizer was at helping my flowers grow. 

Effective should not be confused with affective, which means “emotional.” However, there is an adjectival form of affect that can be used as a synonym for impactful.

affecting

Affecting means “moving or exciting the feelings or emotions.” Unlike affective, the adjective affecting can be used as a synonym for impactful in the sense of “having a great impact on emotions.” For instance: 

 

  • The beautiful sight was so affecting that she wished she could remain on the shore forever. 

Let’s look at another example of a synonym for impactful in this same sense of the word.

meaningful

One of the easiest synonyms to use as a synonym for impactful is meaningful. This synonym is best used when talking about emotional responses. Meaningful means “full of significance, purpose, or value.” Here’s an example of how you might use it: 

 

  • We were deeply moved by the poet’s meaningful poem. 

In this example, the poem created an emotional response. 

poignant

Poignant, pronounced [ poin-yuhnt ], is a somewhat formal or even old-fashioned word, but it is a fine synonym for impactful. Poignant has a variety of meanings, including “affecting or moving the emotions.” 

 

  • On the wall was hung a poignant landscape featuring a barren field and windswept trees.

This word ultimately comes from the Latin pungere, meaning “to prick, pierce.” Something that is poignant pricks at your emotions.

substantial

As we mentioned, impactful can also be used to mean “having a great effect” on an outcome. One synonym for this meaning of impactful is substantial. Substantial has a variety of meanings, including “of real worth, value, or effect.” For example: 

 

  • Fortunately, the savings from our new banking program were substantial.

dynamic

A synonym for impactful that is similarly a bit of a buzzword is dynamic. Dynamic means “pertaining to or characterized by energy or effective action.” 

 

  • The board was impressed by the chairman’s dynamic speech and voted in agreement.

While dynamic can be used in everyday speech in this way, it has specific meanings in physics, music, grammar, and digital technology. Learn more about the different meanings for dynamic at our entry for the term.

Be fearless with your language when you want to describe someone’s actions. These 13 synonyms for “bravery” and “courage” are a bold place to start.

provocative

Generally speaking, impactful has a neutral or even positive connotation. However, if you are looking for a synonym that can have a bit more of a negative (or at least attention-getting) connotation, try provocative. Provocative means “inciting, stimulating, irritating, or vexing.” An example of how to use provocative is: 

 

  • As a boss, Clara prided herself in being a manager who challenged her team with provocative ideas about new ways to grow their business. 

impressive

Something that is impactful causes shock and awe. In other words, it is impressive. Impressive is an adjective meaning “arousing admiration, awe, respect; moving.” 

 

  • The replica of the house in miniature was impressive; it was exact down to the smallest piece of furniture. 

The verbs impact and impress are synonyms, too. Read our entries for these words to learn more.

influential

Anything that has an impact also has an influence. That’s why influential is a synonym for impactful. Influential can be used as an adjective meaning “having or exerting influence or power over persons or things.” Here is one example:

 

  • The band’s cutting-edge sound was hugely influential on today’s pop music.

Do you find yourself reusing certain words in your writing? We have rounded up some of the most common words with better alternatives to keep your writing fresh.

impactive

If you are looking for a near-synonym for impactful, look no further than impactive. Impactive means “compelling or impressive.” This word only predates impactful by about 30 years and it is not as commonly used, but it is far less controversial. For example:

 

  • My mother was truly touched by the impactive power of my sister’s performance. 

Given the rarity of this term, it may not be the best choice for informal contexts.

Do you have a handle on these powerful synonyms? You can review all of our synonyms for impactful at the word list here

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