af·​for·​dance ə-ˈfȯr-dᵊn(t)s How to pronounce affordance (audio)
plural affordances
: the quality or property of an object that defines its possible uses or makes clear how it can or should be used
We sit or stand on a chair because those affordances are fairly obvious.Scott Lafee
An affordance is a resource or support that the environment offers an animal; the animal in turn must possess the capabilities to perceive it and to use it.Eleanor J. Gibson et al.

Examples of affordance in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Across industries, the affordances and constraints of collaboration tools, whether physical spaces or digital platforms, shape how people work together. Kyle J. Russell, USA TODAY, 3 July 2024 Successful affordance in design allows users to intuitively understand how to interact with a system or product without needing explicit instructions. Hamilton Mann, Forbes, 24 Feb. 2024 Mastodon—an experience that replicates some of Twitter’s affordances, but not all—remains frustrating and confusing for new users. Katherine Alejandra Cross, WIRED, 13 July 2023 The affordances of sticks, pedals and things to hit with them enable our sound. Peter Rubin, Longreads, 2 Mar. 2023 For those productivity centric tasks, pairing it with the Magic Keyboard gave us the affordance of classic interfaces to work with — namely a keyboard and trackpad. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, 21 Oct. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'affordance.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


afford + -ance

Note: As a term in the study of cognition introduced by the American psychologist James J. Gibson (1904-79) in The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems (Boston, 1966) and later essays.

First Known Use

1966, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of affordance was in 1966

Dictionary Entries Near affordance

Cite this Entry

“Affordance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

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