affectation

noun
af·​fec·​ta·​tion | \ˌa-ˌfek-ˈtā-shən \

Definition of affectation 

1a : speech or conduct not natural to oneself : an unnatural form of behavior meant especially to impress others His French accent is just an affectation.

b : the act of taking on or displaying an attitude or mode of behavior not natural to oneself or not genuinely felt speaking honestly without affectation mocked his piety as affectation

2 obsolete : a striving after

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Choose the Right Synonym for affectation

pose, air, airs, affectation, mannerism mean an adopted way of speaking or behaving. pose implies an attitude deliberately assumed in order to impress others. her shyness was just a pose air may suggest natural acquirement through environment or way of life. a traveler's sophisticated air airs always implies artificiality and pretentiousness. snobbish airs affectation applies to a trick of speech or behavior that strikes the observer as insincere. the posh accent is an affectation mannerism applies to an acquired eccentricity that has become a habit. gesturing with a cigarette was her most noticeable mannerism

Affectation and Affection

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.

Examples of affectation in a Sentence

His French accent is just an affectation. a woman of great affectation at social gatherings

Recent Examples on the Web

The actors are deft at striking the right balance of affectation and affection. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "What to Watch on Netflix in October, According to Our Editors," 1 Oct. 2018 The clones may share the same face, but the range of personalities, affectations, and demeanors Maslany brought to them were what earned the show its niche army of fans — even if the Television Academy didn't see it. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "Sandra Oh Just Made History For Killing Eve, But The Emmys Forgot One Thing," 12 July 2018 The affectation becomes a symbol of conformity, and worse, a betrayal of self. Aisha Harris, New York Times, "When Black Performers Use Their ‘White Voice’," 10 July 2018 His nasal affectation echoes that of his musical hero, Bob Dylan. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "At PEM, T.C. Cannon’s paintings exult and reproach," 21 Mar. 2018 But anyone who views this idiosyncratically earthy habit of hers as hippie unseriousness or mere affectation should have come to Ojai. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "A Quirky Violinist and a Festival to Match," 11 June 2018 Very early in the film, Waititi strips Thor of his most iconic affectations: His hammer is destroyed and [gasp] his hair is cut. Tom Philip, GQ, "Marvel's Funniest Movie Is Now on Netflix," 11 June 2018 Mame’s eccentricities come across as gestures rather than expressions of bone-deep opposition to convention, as affectations rather than a way of life that is central to her identity. Don Aucoin, BostonGlobe.com, "A ‘Mame’ that’s a bit short on magic," 7 June 2018 But her success isn’t a result of ornamentation or affectation. Hector Saldana, San Antonio Express-News, "New album a career peak for singer-songwriter Patricia Vonne," 1 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of affectation

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for affectation

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French affectation, borrowed from Latin affectātiōn-, affectātiō "striving after, strained manner (in rhetoric)," from affectāre "to strive after, try to accomplish, pretend to have" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns — more at affect entry 2

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Dictionary Entries near affectation

affamish

affect

affectate

affectation

affectatious

affected

affecter

Statistics for affectation

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for affectation

The first known use of affectation was in 1548

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