• affinity •
ê-fin-i-ti • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A natural liking for someone or something. 2. Similarity, resemblance suggesting a relationship. 3. A relationship, especially by marriage as opposed to consanguinity. 4. (Chemistry) The degree to which a substance combines with another.
Notes: This word derivationally comes from an adjective, affine, which survives today only in the realms of mathematics and anthropology. In anthropology it may be used as a noun meaning "a relative by marriage", as 'the consanguines of the wife are the affines of the husband and vice versa'. We also have an adjective, affined, which means "related by some affinity", especially by blood.
In Play: The first sense of this word is used mostly with the prepositions with and for: "Gilda Lilley had an affinity for the outdoors despite the bugs, wolves, snakes, and bears." The second sense has an affinity for the preposition to: "English, in its dearth of active prefixes and suffixes, is showing more and more an affinity to Chinese."
Word History: This word is the English copy of Old French afinite "relationship, kinship; neighborhood" (Modern French affinité), tailored to French from Latin native affinitas "relationship by marriage; neighborhood". Affinitas is the noun from affinis "adjoining, adjacent", literally "bordering on" from ad "(up) to" + finis "border, boundary", a Latin word with no history. The preposition is another matter. It was inherited from PIE ad "to, at, near", which gave us English at and ado, as in 'much ado about nothing', from earlier at + do.
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