Definition of affectation
- His French accent is just an affectation.
- speaking honestly without affectation
- mocked his piety as affectation
His French accent is just an affectation.
a woman of great affectation at social gatherings
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'affectation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Affectation looks a lot like a much more common word, affection. But the two are used very differently.
The more familiar word, affection, in modern use means "a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something," as in "They show their dog a lot of affection."
Affectation, on the other hand, refers to a form of behavior that's unnatural to the person engaging in it, and that is meant to impress other people. A phony accent someone uses to sound more sophisticated, for example, can be considered an affectation, as can pretending to know all about some obscure band in order to seem cool.
The words don't have much in common in their use, but their similarity in appearance is not coincidence. Both have to do with one of the trickiest words in the language: affect.
Affect is one of the most frequently looked-up words in the dictionary, primarily because of its regular confusion with effect. The short rationale that you often hear when it comes to distinguishing the two is that effect is usually a noun and affect is a verb. The breakdown isn't all that simple, however, and what makes things even more confusing is that there are two verb entries for affect.
One affect entry is for the sense meaning "to produce an effect upon (someone)" or "to act upon (a person, a person's mind or feelings, etc.) so as to effect a response." This is the sense that connects to affection, as in "We were affected by the young woman's heartfelt speech." Being affected by something in this way doesn't necessarily result in affection, but it can.
The other verb affect is defined as "to make a display of liking or using : cultivate" or "to put a pretense on : feign." It is used when talking about things like styles or mannerisms, as in "He affected a British accent and tweedy look after reading nothing but Sherlock Holmes stories for months on end."
The two verbs affect took different etymological paths from the same origin. The "put on a pretense" sense of affect derives via Middle English and Anglo-French from the Latin affectāre, meaning "to try to accomplish, strive after, pretend to have." Affectāre is a derivative of afficere, which means "to produce an effect on, exert an influence on"; the affect related to affection is from a variant of afficere.
arrogance, bumptiousness, complacency, conceit, egotism, hauteur, imperiousness, pompousness, presumptuousness, pride, self-aggrandizement, self-assertion, self-assumption, self-conceit, self-consequence, self-glorification, self-importance, self-satisfaction, smugness, vaingloriousness, vainglory, vainness, vanity;
What made you want to look up affectation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).