Definition of elective affinity in English:

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elective affinity

Entry from British & World English dictionary


A correspondence with, or feeling of sympathy or attraction towards, a particular idea, attitude, or person: there is an elective affinity between this cultural vision and the religious vision of the Church
More example sentences
  • Much of the analysis of the elective affinity between religious ideas and apocalyptic violence will not be completely new to those who have followed the work of such scholars as Thomas Robbins, John Hall, or Michael Barkun.
  • It underwent its own transformations, though always exhibiting an elective affinity with idealism, relativism, historicism, a hermeneutic style of analysis, and what we now call identity politics.…
  • For this reason Shakespeare and America have a strong elective affinity, for it is in America, according to Emerson, that the social aims of individuality and self-reliance will be most fully realized.


Mid 18th century (as elective attraction): originally a technical term for the preferential combination of chemical substances, it was widely used figuratively in the 19th century, notably by Goethe (in his novel Die Wahlverwandschaften 'Elective Affinities') and by Weber (in describing the correspondence between aspects of Protestantism and capitalism).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: elect|ive af¦fin|ity

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