AskDefine | Define affair

Dictionary Definition



1 a vaguely specified concern; "several matters to attend to"; "it is none of your affair"; "things are going well" [syn: matter, thing]
2 a usually secretive or illicit sexual relationship [syn: affaire, intimacy, liaison, involvement, amour]
3 a vaguely specified social event; "the party was quite an affair"; "an occasion arranged to honor the president"; "a seemingly endless round of social functions" [syn: occasion, social occasion, function, social function]

User Contributed Dictionary



afere, affere, afaire, affaire, from a faire to do; Latin ad- + facere to do. See Fact, and confer Ado.


IPA: WEAE /əˈfɛɹ/


  1. That which is done or is to be done; matter; concern; business of any kind, commercial, professional, or public; — often in the plural.
    a difficult affair to manage
  2. Any proceeding or action which it is wished to refer to or characterize vaguely.
    an affair of honor, i. e., a duel
    an affair of love, i. e., an intrigue.
  3. An action or engagement not of sufficient magnitude to be called a battle.
  4. A material object (vaguely designated).
    He used a hook-shaped affair with a long handle to unlock the car.
  5. An adulterous relationship. (from affaire de coeur.)


that which is done or is to be done
  • German: Angelegenheit
  • Hebrew: פרשה (parasha)
  • Japanese: 事件 (jiken)
  • Portuguese: negócio
  • Spanish: negocio
any proceeding or action which it is wished to refer to or characterize vaguely
action or engagement not of sufficient magnitude to be called a battle
  • German: Scharmützel
  • Japanese: 問題(もんだい, mondai)
material object (vaguely designated)
  • German: Ding
  • Portuguese: negócio
adulterous relationship
  • Croatian: afera
  • Czech: poměr
  • German: Beziehung, Affäre
  • Hebrew: רומן (roman)
  • Japanese: 情事 (jōji)
  • Portuguese: caso

Extensive Definition

For other uses, see Love Affair or Scandal An affair may refer to a form of nonmonogamy, to infidelity or to adultery. Where an affair lacks both overt and covert sexual behaviour and yet exhibits intense or enduring emotional intimacy it is called an emotional affair. 'Affair' may be used as a euphemism and in some cases to add glamour to an illicit liaison or it may be used to slander.
Affair has the same word origins as affect — an affair implies bonds of affection, but not necessarily so. Some affairs are premeditatively cold, exploitative or designed to extract information or to provide the basis for later blackmail or grounds for divorce.
In the most general sense, affair may be used to connote professional, personal, or public business. These include meetings or other functions, or tasks that need to be completed. For example, one might say, "I have other affairs to attend to at the moment." It may also refer to a particular business or private activity, as in family affair or private affair. An affair, in the political sense, typically refers to any kind of involvement in illicit business by any kind of public representatives, such as in the Watergate affair. Like the earlier definition this is not always the case — for example the British Government has a Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, which is a perfectly legitimate (and usually honorable) position.

Sex and romance

Some have argued that the widespread occurrence of extramarital affairs is polygamy by stealth. These are relationships where an illicit sexual, romantic relationship or a romantic friendship, passionate attachment occurs alongside a monogamous relationship. Those extramarital affairs that continue in one form or another for decades, even as one of the partners to that affair passes through a marriage, divorce and remarriage. Over that length of time one could consider the affair the primary relationship and the marriages secondary to it — a case of serial polygamy or other forms of nonmonogamy. The ability to pursue serial affairs or marriages in this way whilst safeguarding the conflict of interest inherent in the practice, requires considerable skill in deception and negotiation.
Deception is the "covert manipulation of perception to alter thoughts, feeling, or beliefs". It points to the degree to which the deceiver may breach fundamental conditions of fidelity, reciprocal vulnerability and transparency assumed as pre-conditions of committed intimate relationships.
Affair is not only used to describe cheating but may also describe part of an agreement referred to as open marriage, which sanctions some extramarital affairs and not others. When one of the non-sanctioned affairs occurs it is described as infidelity and often experienced as a betrayal both of trust and integrity.
Affairs are sometimes accompanied by scandal. When used in this context, "affair" usually implies sexual impropriety, but that is not necessarily the case. For example, in the classic film An Affair to Remember, the love affair in question might be considered acceptable from some moral standpoints. However, an emotional affair can be as devastating for the one who is excluded or betrayed by it as if a full sexual liaison had occurred. By contrast the film Dangerous Liaisons shows many sides to a culture of illicit affairs between the main characters. It explores the escalating costs of covert and immoral adventures.
The linkage of sex and romance with affair provides the basis for entertainment in advertising, art, literature, film, plays and in TV soaps. It can fuel crusades against monogamy or promoting the value of monogamy.

Further reading

  • Schmitt, D. P., et al. (2004). Patterns and universals of mate poaching across 53 nations: The effects of sex, culture, and personality on romantically attracting another person's partner. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 560-584.

External links

affair in German: Liebesaffäre
affair in Esperanto: Amafero
affair in Dutch: Buitenechtelijke relatie
affair in Chinese: 緋聞

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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