• A leaning or preference toward someone or something

  • The attractive force, or magnetism, that brings two or more complementary things together

  • A connection or relationship between two or more things


Sometimes, people seem to be born with a natural affinity for something, whether it be a natural appreciation for classical music or an almost innate understanding of construction work. Relationships between two or more things are often first built from a mutual similarity or fondness, an affinity of sorts, that attracts those things to one another. The world is full of connections, sometimes in ways you wouldn’t expect! But finding affinities is easy when you see signs of attraction!

Affinity refers to an inclination or affection that is felt towards a person or thing. This natural partiality is usually effortless, unconsciously forged by elements of similarity and mutual desirability. After searching for a partner for years, two people may meet each other for the first time and automatically feel an indescribable bond, the realization of an affinity between them. Though they may try to pin their chemistry on mere physical attraction or a similar taste in food, this seemingly random compatibility may or may not be ever fully understood. Nevertheless, many affinities, such as your neighbor’s love of gardening or Mr. Whisker’s insatiable appetite for field mice, can be explained by the way the activity fulfills a need, or even by simple biology in some cases.

Living beings aren’t the only ones that can have an affinity for someone or something: Ideas that share analogous attributes, like the government systems of a democracy and a republic, may bear a resemblance, or affinity, to the other. In chemistry (which also doubles as a synonym for our word!), the word affinity is used to denote the force or attraction that brings two or more atoms together to form compounds. Indeed, any type of similarity or harmony among individual items, or between groups of them, is an affinity that brings them together literally or figuratively. On the other hand, when people or ideas lack commonalities or any attraction, it can be said that one has no affinity to (or with) the other. The relationship that is present between two or more things is also considered an affinity. For example, a friendship or a marriage, most likely predicated on multiple similarities between parties, would signify an association based on common attraction. (In human and animal relationships that are blood relations, you would use a different term, consanguinity.) Interestingly, in biology, the word affinity is used to denote the inferred evolutionary, or phylogenetic, relationship between animals or plants, due to the fact that these family trees are based on hereditary similarities rather than direct lineage.

There is one special case within its usage where our word can be used as an adjective and that’s in the phrase affinity group. Here, affinity describes these groups or individuals that share any of a multiplicity of attributes ranging from the physical to the emotional. Many organizations, such as universities, know the importance of arranging affinity groups from video game club to the Ping-Pong team for their students. These outlets provide ways for people to connect and share common interests – a perfect thing for those of us who are trying to find out our affinities and whom we have them with!

Example: John has always had an affinity for ice cream; his freezer is filled to the brim with Rocky Road!

Example: The affinity between them is so strong that they can almost read each other’s minds.

Example: We’ve created an affinity group for people who love to dance!


Like most other words of Latin or Greek origin, affinity boasts a long and interesting relationship with its root words. Affinity comes from the Latin word affinis, roughly translated as “side by side,” as in two pieces of material abutting one another, or “related to.” In the sense of relation, the derivative affinitatem signified a marital union or a community in which neighbors lived close together. Only in the early 17th century did affinity evolve to mean “attraction” or “association” within the sciences and in connections with different people and ideas. This “affection” towards others is thought to be that of kinship, or as if two things were part of the same family.

Similar Words

Although they mean two very different things, the words affinity and infinity are bound to be mixed up simply due to their similarities, or affinities, to one another in regard to spelling and sound. Infinity has to do with a state of endlessness whereas affinity signifies connections between two things.

In Literature

From Lydia Davis’ Almost No Memory:

We feel an affinity with a certain thinker because we agree with him; or because he shows us what we were already thinking; or because he shows us in a more articulate form what we were already thinking; or because he shows us what we were on the point of thinking; or what we would sooner or later have thought; or what we would have thought much later if we hadn’t read it now; or what we would have been likely to think but never would have thought if we hadn’t read it now; or what we would have liked to think but never would have thought if we hadn’t read it now.

Here, the author comes to the realization that readers feel that they have a bond, or affinity, with a particular writer or philosopher because we feel as if they have expressed what we had wanted to say all along but couldn’t find the perfect words to do so. Finding someone who is on the same wavelength is a comforting experience that affirms “everyday people” of their beliefs and dreams


  • A friendly affinity is sensed instantly.

  • Affinity: Electricity and connectivity!

  • Affinity: Natural Affection


Relationship, Similarity, Connection, Compatibility, Chemistry

Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of affinity. Did you use affinity in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.