af·​fair ə-ˈfer How to pronounce affair (audio)
affairs plural : commercial, professional, public, or personal business
handles the company's public affairs
an expert in foreign affairs
: matter, concern
How I choose to live is my affair, not yours.
: 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.
or less commonly affaire
: a romantic or passionate attachment typically of limited duration : liaison sense 2b
had an affair with a coworker
: a matter occasioning public anxiety, controversy, or scandal : case
the Watergate affair of the early 1970s

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web In the Mood for Love stars iconic actors Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung as two strangers drawn together by their spouses’ affair. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 2 Feb. 2023 The pair's affair is believed to have officially begun around this point. Harper's BAZAAR, 30 Jan. 2023 Volume 2 is a mostly folk and acoustic affair and a hodgepodge of alternative takes of Dylan’s more traditional songs. Brady Gerber, Vulture, 30 Jan. 2023 Highway Patrol investigators disagreed with the autopsy’s determination and pursued several leads — including rumors that Buster was having a secret affair with Smith, and the Murdaugh family may have been behind the killing. Fox News, 30 Jan. 2023 A year later, Jonas popped the question, and in 2019, the couple tied the knot twice: first in a surprise ceremony in Las Vegas and later at a lavish affair in the French countryside. Alex Gurley, Peoplemag, 30 Jan. 2023 Sitting rooms are more of a public affair, and so—in my humble opinion—require a slightly more refined approach. Jermaine Gallacher, Vogue, 30 Jan. 2023 In a clear example of art mirroring life, the book came out around the same time as Colette’s affair with her 16-year-old stepson, Bertrand de Jouvenel. Colette Fountain, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Jan. 2023 That same sense of fun is tangible at Caviar Bar in Charleston, South Carolina, an eight-seat affair set on a 19th-century veranda at Zero George Hotel. Diana Spechler, Bon Appétit, 26 Jan. 2023 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near affair

Cite this Entry

“Affair.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


af·​fair ə-ˈfa(ə)r How to pronounce affair (audio)
plural : commercial, professional, public, or personal business
government affairs
arranged my affairs before leaving
: concern entry 2 sense 1, matter
not your affair at all
: event sense 1b, activity
a social affair
: product sense 2, thing
the house was a two-story affair
: a brief romantic relationship

More from Merriam-Webster on affair

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