1. A mannerism or habit that is assumed rather than natural, especially to impress others.
2. Behavior characterized by such mannerisms or habits; artificiality: a simpering manner that was mere affectation.
[Latin affectātiō, affectātiōn-, from affectātus, past participle of affectāre, to strive after; see AFFECT2.]
Synonyms: affectation, pose1, air, mannerism
These nouns refer to personal behavior assumed for effect. An affectation is an artificial manner or behavior adopted to impress others or call attention to oneself: "Post-Renaissance scholars often adopted the affectation of recasting their names in classical form" (Steven Jay Gould).
A pose is a false manner or attitude usually intended to win favor or cover up a shortcoming: His humility is only a pose.
Air, meaning a distinctive but intangible quality, does not always imply sham: The director had an air of authority.
In the plural, however, it suggests affectation and self-importance: The movie star was putting on airs.
Mannerism denotes an idiosyncratic trait or quirk that others may find attractive but is often perceived as needlessly distracting: "I can picture ... her shaking her hands in that odd mannerism, like someone wanting to strangle a chicken" (Jill Dawson).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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