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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.
Contemporary Examples

The Bettencourt affair,” he said, “is something you can talk about for three minutes or you can talk about for eight days.
As L’Oréal Family Feud Engulfs Sarkozy, an Unlikely Ally Emerges Christopher Dickey March 23, 2013

But if this affair does not do lasting damage to the party, Meretz does appear to be on the rise.
Setting the Record Straight on a Meretz Scandal Ralph Seliger July 16, 2013

News that the CIA chief was having an affair did not shock those close to him during his final tours of battle.
Early Signs of General Petraeus’s Extramarital Affair John Barry November 10, 2012

For Kirke it was being paid to pretend to play the oboe that heightened her affair with classical music.
‘Mozart in the Jungle’: Inside Amazon’s Brave New World of Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music Kevin Fallon December 22, 2014

The two spat back and forth, with Allen bringing up Hopkins’ affair with a married colleague.
Who Pays For Michelle Obama’s Clothing?; Scout Willis Speaks Out Regarding Topless Photos The Fashion Beast Team June 1, 2014

Historical Examples

Grant realized that there was no room for squeamishness in this affair.
The Postmaster’s Daughter Louis Tracy

This afternoon, an observer would have thought the affair was proceeding to this point.
Deerbrook Harriet Martineau

Within a couple of minutes the affair had become highly improper.
Soul of a Bishop H. G. Wells

I do not suppose your husband may not see it; but that is your affair.
Deerbrook Harriet Martineau

Betty and Dick entered into the spirit of the affair and could not say enough in praise of the girls who had thought of it.
The Mystery of Jockey Hollow Cleo Garis

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

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]


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  • Affaire

    a love affair. a love affair. Contemporary Examples It is dubbed the affaire du Carlton, after a four-star hotel at the heart of the scandal in Lille, northeast of Paris. Hooker-Ring Probe Embroils DSK Tracy McNicoll October 17, 2011 Historical Examples He jumped up, pointed to the page, and cried out, “Voila mon affaire!” Lord […]

  • Affaire d’amour

    a love affair. Historical Examples Tunic takes a friendly interest in my affaire d’amour, and gives me the benefit of his experience in such matters. The Pearl of the Antilles, or An Artist in Cuba Walter Goodman noun (pl) affaires d’amour (afɛr damur) a love affair

  • Affaire d’honneur

    a duel. Historical Examples An “affaire d’honneur” originated from this, and the parties met this morning. The South-West Joseph Holt Ingraham Weell you for myself de condescension to have dat you weell be one friend to one affaire d’honneur? Love in a Cloud Arlo Bates noun (pl) affaires d’honneur (afɛr dɔnœr) a duel

  • Affaire de coeur

    a love affair. Historical Examples I don’t think, in the first case, that this was an affaire de coeur, as the Frenchmen say. The Drone Rutherford Mayne noun (pl) affaires de coeur (afɛr də kœr) an affair of the heart; love affair

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