If your grandfather was so startled by people shouting "Surprise!" at his birthday party that he had a mild heart attack, you'd probably want to just forget the whole affair. An affair is a specific event.

You can use affair as a kind of shorthand, to mean "that big mess," or "that complicated story I already told you about." Your affair can also mean your responsibility or job, like if your grandmother said, "I don't care about balloons for the party — that's your affair." Another way affair is frequently used is to mean a love affair, particularly if the relationship is brief and intense. This meaning comes from the French phrase affaire de coeur, "affair of the heart."

Definitions of affair
  1. noun
    a vaguely specified social event
    “the party was quite an affair
    synonyms: function, occasion, social function, social occasion
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    an occasion on which people can assemble for social interaction and entertainment
    celebration, jubilation
    a joyful occasion for special festivities to mark some happy event
    ceremonial, ceremonial occasion, ceremony, observance
    a formal event performed on a special occasion
    a social function that is held for the purpose of raising money
    photo op, photo opportunity
    an occasion that lends itself to (or is deliberately arranged for) taking photographs that provide favorable publicity for those who are photographed
    an occasion of spending a night away from home or having a guest spend the night in your home (especially as a party for children)
    bash, brawl, do
    an uproarious party
    birthday party
    a party held on the anniversary of someone's birth
    bun-fight, bunfight
    (Briticism) a grand formal party on an important occasion
    an informal social gathering at which there is Scottish or Irish folk music and singing and folk dancing and story telling
    cocktail party
    an afternoon party at which cocktails are served
    a party for social dancing
    feast, fete, fiesta
    an elaborate party (often outdoors)
    house party
    a party lasting over one or more nights at a large house
    a happy party
    tea party
    a party at which tea is served
    whist drive
    a progressive whist party
    formal ceremony about important occasions
    a ceremony at which a dead person is buried or cremated
    hymeneals, nuptials, wedding, wedding ceremony
    the social event at which the ceremony of marriage is performed
    pageant, pageantry
    a rich and spectacular ceremony
    a ceremony in which something (as a building) is dedicated to some goal or purpose
    a ceremony accompanying the start of some enterprise
    commemoration, memorialisation, memorialization
    a ceremony to honor the memory of someone or something
    military ceremony
    a formal ceremony performed by military personnel
    induction, initiation, installation
    a formal entry into an organization or position or office
    (usually plural) a ceremony that involves processions and speeches
    fire walking
    the ceremony of walking barefoot over hot stones or a bed of embers
    formalities, formality
    a requirement of etiquette or custom
    a public ceremony on Maundy Thursday when the monarch distributes Maundy money
    a ceremonial feast held by some Indians of the northwestern coast of North America (as in celebrating a marriage or a new accession) in which the host gives gifts to tribesmen and others to display his superior wealth (sometimes, formerly, to his own impoverishment)
    type of:
    social event
    an event characteristic of persons forming groups
  2. noun
    a matter or concern
    “it is none of your affair
    synonyms: matter, thing
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    something that is of no importance
    type of:
    something that interests you because it is important or affects you
  3. noun
    a usually secretive or illicit sexual relationship
Word Family

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