Word: assignation

Pronunciation: a-sig-NAY-shən

Part of Speech: noun


  1. an appointment to meet someone in secret
  2. the allocation or attribution of someone or something as belonging to something

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Bet you’re not familiar with this word (at least in its first sense). Since it fits the theme of today’s post, though, I’ll let you in on a secret: I almost used “assignation” in a story once. I say “almost” because it was cut during the editing process when I realized it didn’t quite flow with the rest of my text. Similar to another word I’ve featured here before, the sound of the word “assignation” seems to contradict its definition, as in this case I was using it to indicate a secret encounter between lovers.

An “assignation” is an appointment between two people to meet in secret, said people typically being lovers. It can also refer to a distribution or attribution of something. The word arose in late Middle English and originally meant “command” or “allotment of revenue”. It can be traced back through Old French to the Latin verb assignare (“assign” or “distribute”), which consists of the preposition ad “to” and the verb signare “to sign”.

It definitely makes sense that “assignation” would be the act of assigning certain things to someone or something. However, I confess that I find the former definition much more interesting. It’s always helpful to know as many words as possible that could work in romantic stories (or business ventures, in the case of the latter definition), though I may never be able to find a good place for it in my own writing. If you think “assignation” defines exactly what’s going on among your characters, then perhaps you’ll have better luck than me on that front! Good luck!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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