It is from a BBC sports article. Here is the excerpt:

The Briton, 28, used his left hand to telling effect throughout an intriguing affair, in which New Zealand's Parker displayed swift hands, movement and impressive durability.

What does telling effect mean there, and why was an article omitted before it?


Effect can be a noun or a verb. I can have a "strong effect" on something or I can "effect a change". It can also be replaced by "result" in this context.

Telling means:

Having force or producing a striking effect

Revealing previously unknown information

So the Briton was (possibly) previously unknown for his left handed abilities but he used them to achieve a striking result.

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    Telling can also mean to have a strong or significant effect. In this context I don't think it means that Anthony Joshua was previously unkown for his left handed punches. Rather it means his left handed punches did significant damage to Parker his opponent. – Sarriesfan Apr 1 '18 at 10:01
  • @Sarriesfan You’re right! It was the first definition, too. I’ve edited to correct. – Pam Apr 1 '18 at 11:17
  • Why was an article left out before the phrase "telling effect"? – Dmytro O'Hope Apr 1 '18 at 11:41
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    The dictionary entries suggest this is normal for "effect" - you can use “to good effect”. There are other words like this such as "applause", "skill", "impact" that are used in prepositional phrases without articles. – Pam Apr 1 '18 at 11:59

telling effect means "effective" or "striking", that causes a particular reaction as intended. If I say something offensive to somebody and it has a telling effect then it means it is very striking.

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