Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A show, pretense, or display.
  • n. Behavior that is assumed rather than natural; artificiality.
  • n. A particular habit, as of speech or dress, adopted to give a false impression.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An attempt to assume or exhibit what is not natural or real; false display; artificial show.
  • n. An unusual mannerism.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An attempt to assume or exhibit what is not natural or real; false display; artificial show.
  • n. A striving after.
  • n. Fondness; affection.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Strenuous pursuit or desire; earnest quest; a striving in the direction (of).
  • n. A striving for the appearance (of); pretense of the possession or character (of); effort for the reputation (of): as, an affectation of wit or of virtue; affectation of great wealth.
  • n. A striving for effect; artificiality of manner or conduct; effort to attract notice by pretense, assumption, or any peculiarity: as, his affectations are insufferable.
  • n. Affection; fondness.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a deliberate pretense or exaggerated display

Etymologies

Latin affectātiō, affectātiōn-, from affectātus, past participle of affectāre, to strive after; see affect2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested in 1548. From Latin affectātiōnem (possibly via French affectation), from affectō ("I feign"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Mr. Moncton laughed at what he termed my affectation of moral integrity, and tried by every art to seduce me to join in amusements, and visit scenes, from which my mind revolted; and his own example served to strengthen my disgust.

    The Monctons: A Novel, Volume I

  • (a sentence to which Scott's description of him as “a man of great genius” may be successfully opposed); and is especially severe on what he terms his affectation in disclaiming the compliments bestowed on his learning by some of his friends.

    Letters of Horace Walpole 01

  • I think a lot of characters start in affectation and then build from there.

    Collecting characters

  • And I have no idea how his literary affectation translates into “journalism” of any sort.

    Taking the pajamas off « BuzzMachine

  • Now, it’s cute that Miley shows up in a cravat and acts like he’s the offspring of AA Gill and Boris Johnson, but affectation is wearying.

    Matthew Yglesias » How Not to Save The New York Times

  • I come, now, to the silence of affectation, which is presently discernible by the roving of the eye round the room to see if it is heeded, by the sedulous care to avoid an accidental smile, and by the variety of disconsolate attitudes exhibited to the beholders.

    Cecilia

  • Well, you have a list of stuff earlier than that, but it was that -- I just wanted to ask you, when people write you and talk about the tilt and your presence on the set or your so-called affectation of a British accent, do you know that that's the way you look to people on the outside?

    Happy Days Were Here Again: Reflections of a Libertarian Journalist

  • I do not think it is uniformly conspicuous [Y] for quaintness, or that there is much that can be called affectation; though occasionally an excess of brevity has proved too tempting, or the desire to individualize runs away with him.

    Microcosmography or, a Piece of the World Discovered; in Essays and Characters

  • You resent, it seems, what you are pleased to term my affectation of intimacy, and you beg for a style of greater respect in any future communications.

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 101, October 17, 1891

  • Simplicity he holds to be "our barrier against that great enemy to truth and nature, affectation, which is ever clinging to the pencil, and ready to drop and poison every thing it touches."

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine — Volume 53, No. 328, February, 1843

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