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[uh-fair] /əˈfɛər/
anything done or to be done; anything requiring action or effort; business; concern:
an affair of great importance.
affairs, matters of commercial or public interest or concern; the transactions of public or private business or finance:
affairs of state; Before taking such a long trip you should put all your affairs in order.
an event or a performance; a particular action, operation, or proceeding:
When did this affair happen?
thing; matter (applied to anything made or existing, usually with a descriptive or qualifying term):
Our new computer is an amazing affair.
a private or personal concern; a special function, business, or duty:
That's none of your affair.
an intense amorous relationship, usually of short duration.
an event or happening that occasions or arouses notoriety, dispute, and often public scandal; incident:
the Congressional bribery affair.
a party, social gathering, or other organized festive occasion:
The awards ceremony is the biggest affair on the school calendar.
1250-1300; earlier affaire < French, Old French afaire for a faire to do, equivalent to a (< Latin ad to) + faireLatin facere; replacing Middle English afere < Old French Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for affairs
  • They yield to the leaders of their group, but they also sneak off to engage in clandestine affairs when no one's looking.
  • Then an establishment newspaper offered him a column-writing about foreign, but not domestic, affairs.
  • At these extravagant affairs, more is indeed merrier.
  • The palace was once the royal residence and is still used for state functions and formal affairs.
  • They came together to trade and decide community affairs.
  • What a sad state of affairs your intellectual integrity is in.
  • Dehumanization is generally a negative state of affairs.
  • But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that will be a determining factor in all affairs.
  • Most improvised bombs used by insurgents are decidedly low-tech, jury-rigged affairs.
  • Today, conflicts tend to be drawn-out, low-intensity affairs requiring fewer but longer sorties by sea-launched planes.
British Dictionary definitions for affairs


plural noun
personal or business interests: his affairs were in disorder
matters of public interest: current affairs


a thing to be done or attended to; matter; business: this affair must be cleared up
an event or happening: a strange affair
(qualified by an adjective or descriptive phrase) something previously specified, esp a man-made object; thing: our house is a tumbledown affair
a sexual relationship between two people who are not married to each other
See also affairs
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, from à faire to do
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for affairs

"ordinary business," late 15c., plural of affair (n.).



c.1300, "what one has to do," from Anglo-French afere, Old French afaire (12c., Modern French affaire) "business, event; rank, estate," from the infinitive phrase à faire "to do," from Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + facere "to do, make" (see factitious).

A Northern word originally, brought into general use and given a French spelling by Caxton (15c.). General sense of "vague proceedings" (in romance, war, etc.) first attested 1702. Meaning "an affair of the heart; a passionate episode" is from French affaire de coeur (itself attested in English from 1809); to have an affair with someone in this sense is by 1726, earlier have an affair of love:

'Tis manifeſtly contrary to the Law of Nature, that one Woman ſhould cohabit or have an Affair of Love with more than one Man at the ſame time. ["Pufendorf's Law of Nature and Nations," transl. J. Spavan, London, 1716]

Thus, in our dialect, a vicious man is a man of pleasure, a sharper is one that plays the whole game, a lady is said to have an affair, a gentleman to be a gallant, a rogue in business to be one that knows the world. By this means, we have no such things as sots, debauchees, whores, rogues, or the like, in the beau monde, who may enjoy their vices without incurring disagreeable appellations. [George Berkeley, "Alciphron or the Minute Philosopher," 1732]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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