af·​fair | \ ə-ˈfer \

Definition of affair

1a affairs plural : commercial, professional, public, or personal business handles the company's public affairs an expert in foreign affairs
b : matter, concern How I choose to live is my affair, not yours.
2 : a procedure, action, or occasion only vaguely specified also : an object or collection of objects only vaguely specified Their house was a 2-story affair.

3 or less commonly affaire

a : a romantic or passionate attachment typically of limited duration : liaison sense 2b had an affair with a coworker
b : a matter occasioning public anxiety, controversy, or scandal : case the Watergate affair of the early 1970s

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of affair in a Sentence

After the war, the government focused on its own domestic affairs. They accused the U.S. of interfering in the internal affairs of other nations. How I choose to live is my affair, not yours. adulterous affairs between married men and single women
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The economy was strong during Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal, and especially so while Bill Clinton was facing impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky affair. Jon Talton, The Seattle Times, "So far, economy’s Big Mo’ can’t be stopped by scandal or bad policies," 5 Feb. 2019 Bashing Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi affair — specifically MBS — therefore works well for Turkey. Alex Ward, Vox, "If true, it would show the Saudi operation was far bolder than known to date.," 17 Nov. 2018 The Front Runner, the latest film from Jason Reitman (Juno, etc., etc.), is about Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential campaign, which fell apart after details of an apparent affair came out. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "New trailers: The Predator, True Detective, and more," 1 Sep. 2018 By 1986, 25-year-old Diana knew that an affair was happening and that the two were frequently seeing each other. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "What Camilla Parker Bowles Was Really Like Before She Became a Duchess," 1 Aug. 2018 Gemino’s family and friends rejected the notion of an affair. Bayan Wang, azcentral, "Family, friends left wondering how longtime relationship turned deadly for Walmart employee," 12 July 2018 Besides representing Daniels, who received a $130,000 payment in exchange for her silence about an alleged decade-old affair with Trump, Avenatti has taken on another clients in recent months with a connection to Trump. John Wagner,, "Stormy Daniels’ lawyer says he might run against Trump in 2020," 5 July 2018 But Bryant’s move may have more to do with turmoil at her old employer, where CEO Brian Krzanich resigned after a board investigation into an affair with an Intel employee. Natasha Mascarenhas,, "Google Cloud COO Diane Bryant leaves company after less than a year," 3 July 2018 That includes celebrities like Bill Cosby and Louis CK, but the vast majority are corporate executives and business leaders like Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, who resigned late last week after revelations of an affair with an employee. Jeff Green / Bloomberg, Time, "#MeToo Has Implicated 414 High-Profile Executives and Employees in 18 Months," 25 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'affair.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of affair

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for affair

Middle English aferes "activities," affaire "enterprise," borrowed from Anglo-French afaire, affere "business, activity, enterprise, matter, topic, situation," from the phrase a faire "to do," from a "to" (going back to Latin ad) + faire "to do," going back to Latin facere — more at at entry 1, do entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about affair

Statistics for affair

Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for affair

The first known use of affair was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for affair



English Language Learners Definition of affair

: work or activities done for a purpose : commercial, professional, public, or personal business
: a matter that concerns or involves someone
: a secret sexual relationship between two people


af·​fair | \ ə-ˈfer \

Kids Definition of affair

1 affairs plural : work or activities done for a purpose : business government affairs
2 : something that relates to or involves someone His problem is no affair of mine.
3 : a social event or activity The party was to be a simple affair.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on affair

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with affair

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for affair

Spanish Central: Translation of affair

Nglish: Translation of affair for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of affair for Arabic Speakers

Comments on affair

What made you want to look up affair? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by fawning attentiveness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!