affection

noun

af·​fec·​tion ə-ˈfek-shən How to pronounce affection (audio)
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
3
a(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
6
7
: the action of affecting : the state of being affected
8
: umlaut sense 2
used especially in the grammar of the Celtic languages
affectionless adjective

Did you know?

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.

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

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Meghan then rested her head on Harry's shoulder in a sweet, candid show of affection. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 21 Nov. 2022 Qatar has previously said all fans are welcome, including LGBTQ+ people, but that visitors should respect the nation’s culture, in which public displays of affection by anyone are frowned upon. Alexander Smith, NBC News, 18 Nov. 2022 Qatar has said all are welcome, including LGBTQ+ fans, but that visitors should respect the nation's culture, in which public displays of affection by anyone are frowned on. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, 15 Nov. 2022 The country, which is more stringent than the nearby popular tourism hub of Dubai, punishes public displays of affection and wearing revealing clothes. Stephen Kalin, WSJ, 15 Nov. 2022 But who is more deserving of this intense feeling of deep affection than the person staring back at you in the mirror? Karla Pope, Good Housekeeping, 1 Nov. 2022 These tokens of affection make every day feel like a trip to the spa. Ian Malone, Vogue, 10 Nov. 2022 Many of the dogs arrived at the rescue matted, dirty, and in need of affection. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 8 Nov. 2022 Before long, the once-debonair man of fashion feels grateful for the least crumb of affection. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near affection

Cite this Entry

“Affection.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/affection. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

affection

noun

af·​fec·​tion ə-ˈfek-shən How to pronounce affection (audio)
1
: a quality or feeling of liking and caring for another
2
: disease, disorder
an affection of the brain

Medical Definition

affection 1 of 2

noun

af·​fec·​tion ə-ˈfek-shən How to pronounce affection (audio)
1
: a moderate feeling or emotion
2
: the feeling aspect (as in pleasure or displeasure) of consciousness

affection

2 of 2

noun

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

More from Merriam-Webster on affection

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