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.”
Origin and Etymology of affiance
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
Recent Examples of affiance from the Web
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.
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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