Words of the Day: Affidavit, Affiliate, Affine, Affinity, Consanguinity

As a writer it’s important I have a large vocabulary, so I’m reading through the dictionary and then posting interesting words here for accountability. Definitions are generally paraphrases or shortened versions of those found in Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English, Third College Edition, 1988.


Affidavit This is a written statement made on oath before a person authorized to administer oaths, such as a notary public.

This always brings to mind one a scene from one of my favorite Charles Dickens tales, Our Mutual Friend. This excerpt was copied from VictorianLondon.org

 ‘Governors Both,’ returned the man, in what he meant to be a wheedling tone, ‘which on you might be Lawyer Lightwood?’
    ‘I am.’
    ‘Lawyer Lightwood,’ ducking at him with a servile air, ‘I am a man as gets my living, and as seeks to get my living, by the sweat of my brow. Not to risk being done out of the sweat of my brow, by any chances, I should wish afore going further to be swore in.’
    ‘I am not a swearer in of people, man.’
    The visitor, clearly anything but reliant on this assurance, doggedly muttered ‘Alfred David.’
    ‘Is that your name?’ asked Lightwood.
    ‘My name?’ returned the man. ‘No; I want to take a Alfred David.’
    (Which Eugene, smoking and contemplating him, interpreted as meaning Affidavit.)
    ‘I tell you, my good fellow,’ said Lightwood, with his indolent laugh, ‘that I have nothing to do with swearing.’
    ‘He can swear AT you,’ Eugene explained; ‘and so can I. But we can’t do more for you.’


Affiliate 1. to take in as a member or branch 2. to associate with 3. to trace the source of, as the paternity of. Synonym: related

I didn’t realize the strength of relationship or closeness “affiliate” implied until reading its etymology. It’s from a Middle Latin of affiliare, to adopt as a son, which is from the Latin, ad-, to and filius, son.

Continuing with the family-related words, affine refers to a person related by marriage, an in-law. I don’t think I’ve ever heard this word used or read it, though, according to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, it’s been in  use since about 1509.

Affinity After the last two definitions, you shouldn’t be surprised that this affi- word also has a familial definition, although you’re probably more familiar with its other definitions. Skipping a few etymology entries, it comes from the Latin affinis, adjacent, related by marriage, which comes from  ad-, to + finis, a border. So, it has the same root as affine.

Affinity 1. a relationship by marriage, as opposed to a consanguinity, a blood relationship (sanguis refers to blood). 2. close relationship 3. similarity of structure 4. a natural liking, as in a mutual attraction 5. an especially attractive member of the opposite sex. 6. an attractive force between atoms of certain elements that causes them to combine and stay together

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