Origin of affair

1250–1300; earlier affaire < French, Old French afaire for a faire to do, equivalent to a (< Latin ad to) + faireLatin facere; replacing Middle English afere < Old French Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for affair

Contemporary Examples of affair

Historical Examples of affair

  • In this affair real meanings are rarely conveyed except by silences.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • "My aunt will treat the affair like the sensible woman she is," replied the earl.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • If she wanted to do the sort of thing she was doing, that was her affair.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • But Joe's affair with Sidney had been the talk of the neighborhood.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • I thought, the moment I saw you, that you were here for this affair.

British Dictionary definitions for affair



a thing to be done or attended to; matter; businessthis affair must be cleared up
an event or happeninga strange affair
(qualified by an adjective or descriptive phrase) something previously specified, esp a man-made object; thingour house is a tumbledown affair
a sexual relationship between two people who are not married to each other
See also affairs

Word Origin for affair

C13: from Old French, from à faire to do
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for affair

c.1300, "what one has to do," from Anglo-French afere, Old French afaire (12c., Modern French affaire) "business, event; rank, estate," from the infinitive phrase à faire "to do," from Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + facere "to do, make" (see factitious).

A Northern word originally, brought into general use and given a French spelling by Caxton (15c.). General sense of "vague proceedings" (in romance, war, etc.) first attested 1702. Meaning "an affair of the heart; a passionate episode" is from French affaire de coeur (itself attested in English from 1809); to have an affair with someone in this sense is by 1726, earlier have an affair of love:

'Tis manifeſtly contrary to the Law of Nature, that one Woman ſhould cohabit or have an Affair of Love with more than one Man at the ſame time. ["Pufendorf's Law of Nature and Nations," transl. J. Spavan, London, 1716]

Thus, in our dialect, a vicious man is a man of pleasure, a sharper is one that plays the whole game, a lady is said to have an affair, a gentleman to be a gallant, a rogue in business to be one that knows the world. By this means, we have no such things as sots, debauchees, whores, rogues, or the like, in the beau monde, who may enjoy their vices without incurring disagreeable appellations. [George Berkeley, "Alciphron or the Minute Philosopher," 1732]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper