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 The scene then cut to Raquel's confessional where a producer asked her why the affair happened. Alexis Jones, Peoplemag, 17 May 2023 Ariana Madix is relaying painful memories of learning about the affair between her longtime partner, Tom Sandoval, and Raquel Leviss in a new preview clip from the Vanderpump Rules season 10 finale. Ryan Gajewski, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 May 2023 Also called emotional infidelity or an emotional affair, emotional cheating is a breach of trust that occurs when one partner develops a strong bond with someone other than their committed partner. Sara Kuburic, USA TODAY, 17 May 2023 The most disturbing thing about what Owen and Jem soon get up to — which shouldn’t be called an affair, given the imbalance of their dynamic — is the rush of it and their seeming lack of mindfulness. Glenn Kenny,, 16 May 2023 Those seeking an elevated affair should try the Library Tasting Experience that starts with a visit to the estate vineyard followed by a tasting of four wines from the library collection. Mike Desimone And Jeff Jenssen, Robb Report, 16 May 2023 The last years of Smith’s life gave way to a tabloid-ready thicket of addiction, paternity disputes, finger-pointing, court cases, weight problems, affairs, and financial battles. Chris Vognar, Rolling Stone, 16 May 2023 But the reaction — or non-reaction — from Trump’s actual and likely 2024 opponents tells the real story here: The Republican Party, which once impeached a president over an affair with an intern, no longer finds moral wrongdoings disqualifying. Chuck Todd, NBC News, 10 May 2023 The status quo bias refers to our tendency to prefer the current state of affairs over change, even when the alternative may be more beneficial. Gleb Tsipursky, Fortune, 8 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'affair.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 2 Jun. 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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