af·​fi·​ance | \ ə-ˈfī-ən(t)s How to pronounce affiance (audio) \

Definition of affiance

 (Entry 1 of 2)



affianced; affiancing

Definition of affiance (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to solemnly promise (oneself or another) in marriage : betroth

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Promises, Promises: The History of Affidavit, Affiance, & Fiancé

Affidavit refers to a written promise, and its Latin roots connect it to another kind of promise in English. It comes from a past tense form of the Latin verb affidare, meaning “to pledge”; in Latin, affidavit translates to “he or she has made a pledge.”

Affidare is also the root of affiance, an archaic English noun meaning “trust, faith, confidence,” “marriage contract or promise,” or a meaning that has completely fallen from use, “close or intimate relationship.” More familiar to modern English speakers is the verb affiance, meaning “to promise in marriage” or “to betroth.” It usually appears as a fancy-sounding participial adjective:

I like to give affianced friends a copy of Rebecca Mead’s book “One Perfect Day,” which exposes the ridiculous wedding industry.
—Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist, 7 October 2014

Affiance came through French to English in the 14th century, and, nearly 500 years later, the related French words fiancé and fiancée were added to English. Etymologically speaking, a fiancé or fiancée is a “promised one.”

Examples of affiance in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Alexandra Crotin, a rep for Stone, later confirmed to USA TODAY the actress and writer are now affianced. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, "Emma Stone and Dave McCary are engaged! They announce it by flashing her ring on Instagram," 5 Dec. 2019 Below, more perfect gifts to get anyone freshly affianced. Vogue, "16 Perfect Gifts To Give Any Bride-to-Be This Holiday Season," 21 Nov. 2019 Agreeing to be honored in a good friend’s wedding does not mean signing up to pay for expensive group vacations — no matter what the magazines and affianced tell you. Judith Martin, Washington Post, "Miss Manners: The peculiar politics of fundraising parties," 12 Oct. 2019 Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson became the subject of engagement rumors Monday afternoon with outlets reporting that they were recently affianced. Nardine Saad,, "Ariana Grande, Pete Davidson reportedly engaged just weeks into whirlwind romance," 11 June 2018 The newly affianced, reluctant to trouble one another with family problems, may rent substitutes for parents who are divorced, incarcerated, or mentally ill. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, "Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry," 23 Apr. 2018 If this woman decides to yell at you for becoming affianced, that’s a real opportunity for her fiancé to lovingly encourage her to amend her bad behavior. Mallory Ortberg, Slate Magazine, "Prudie advises a letter writer who is fortysomething, wants to marry, but never likes a guy for more than a year.," 12 June 2017

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


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1531, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for affiance


Middle English affiaunce, borrowed from Anglo-French affiance, afiance, from affier, afier "to pledge faith (to), pledge oneself to marry, trust" (going back to Medieval Latin affīdāre, from Latin ad- ad- + Vulgar Latin *fīdāre "to trust") + -ance -ance — more at fiancé


borrowed from Anglo-French affiancer, afiancer, verbal derivative of afiance affiance entry 1

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Learn More about affiance

Time Traveler for affiance

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Affiance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on affiance

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for affiance

Britannica English: Translation of affiance for Arabic Speakers

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