affection

noun
af·​fec·​tion | \ ə-ˈfek-shən How to pronounce affection (audio) \

Definition of affection

1 : a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something : tender attachment : fondness She had a deep affection for her parents.
2 : a moderate feeling or emotion
3a(1) : a bodily condition
(2) : disease, malady a pulmonary affection
b : attribute shape and weight are affections of bodies
4 obsolete : partiality, prejudice
5 : the feeling aspect (as in pleasure) of consciousness
7 : the action of affecting : the state of being affected
8 : umlaut sense 2 used especially in the grammar of the Celtic languages

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from affection

affectionless \ ə-​ˈfek-​shən-​ləs How to pronounce affectionless (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for affection

feeling, emotion, affection, sentiment, passion mean a subjective response to a person, thing, or situation. feeling denotes any partly mental, partly physical response marked by pleasure, pain, attraction, or repulsion; it may suggest the mere existence of a response but imply nothing about the nature or intensity of it. the feelings that once moved me are gone emotion carries a strong implication of excitement or agitation but, like feeling, encompasses both positive and negative responses. the drama portrays the emotions of adolescence affection applies to feelings that are also inclinations or likings. a memoir of childhood filled with affection for her family sentiment often implies an emotion inspired by an idea. her feminist sentiments are well known passion suggests a very powerful or controlling emotion. revenge became his ruling passion

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 affection in a Sentence

She has deep affection for her parents. He shows great affection for his grandchildren. feelings of love and affection He now looks back on those years with great affection. She developed a deep affection for that country and its people.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Paul Rudd Paul Rudd has become one of Hollywood’s most-beloved objects of fan affection; over the years, the low-key actor has become the Internet’s Boyfriend and denied the existence of aging. Raisa Bruner, Time, "The 10 Best Memes of 2019," 22 Nov. 2019 Much has been said on the religious undertones of the cultish affection many adults have shown this Scandinavian teenager, but the mural elevates the metaphor to the level of analogy. John Hirschauer, National Review, "An Icon for Saint Greta Thunberg," 14 Nov. 2019 Harry and Meghan's wedding in May 2018 was marked by an outpouring of affection in Britain, but less than a year later the couple have found themselves on the receiving end of a barrage of negative stories in the media. NBC News, "Elton John slams media for criticizing Prince Harry, Meghan over flying in private jets," 20 Aug. 2019 Former teen heroes reunite after the death of their adoptive father, a billionaire who trained them to hone their superpowers against evil but failed to ground them with any sort of paternal affection. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "Superheroes behaving badly: 12 crusading TV series target mature audiences," 4 Aug. 2019 Their hand holding, a rare display of public affection from Reeves, led many online to believe that the pair could potentially be in a relationship. Cady Lang, Time, "Keanu Reeves Joining Hands With Artist Alexandra Grant on the Red Carpet Has Fans Feeling Joyous," 5 Nov. 2019 Wilson understands the mixture of affection and embarrassment that runs through all loving families. Ron Charles, Washington Post, "Children burst into flames in Kevin Wilson’s ‘Nothing to See here’," 4 Nov. 2019 More still have been offered a trinket of the club’s affection: several have received a statuette of a fox, the club’s emblem, cast in silver. Rory Smith, New York Times, "At Leicester City, a Revival Fueled by Sense, Not Sentiment," 2 Nov. 2019 These visiting artists, though, approach their communities with a blend of protective affection for pre-colonial tradition and a clear-eyed sense of its ancient prejudices and limitations. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "Moving ‘Andares’ at Chicago Shakespeare has stories of rural Mexico, without any romantic gloss," 25 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'affection.' 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 affection

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for affection

Middle English affeccioun "capacity for feeling, emotion, desire, love," borrowed from Anglo-French, "desire, love, inclination, partiality," borrowed from Latin affectiōn-, affectiō "frame of mind, feeling, feeling of attachment," from affec- (variant stem of afficere "to produce an effect on, exert an influence on") + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns — more at affect entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about affection

Time Traveler for affection

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for affection

Last Updated

29 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Affection.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/affections. Accessed 7 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for affection

affection

noun
af·​fec·​tion | \ ə-ˈfek-shən How to pronounce affection (audio) \

Kids Definition of affection

: a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something He shows great affection for his grandchildren.

affection

noun
af·​fec·​tion | \ ə-ˈfek-shən How to pronounce affection (audio) \

Medical Definition of affection

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a moderate feeling or emotion
2 : the feeling aspect (as in pleasure or displeasure) of consciousness

affection

noun

Medical Definition of affection (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the action of affecting : the state of being affected
2a : a bodily condition
b : disease, malady a pulmonary affection

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on affection

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

WORD OF THE DAY

the study of flags

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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