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From Middle English assignacioun, from Old French assignacion.


  • IPA(key): /æsɪɡˈneɪʃən/
  • (file)


assignation (countable and uncountable, plural assignations)

  1. An appointment for a meeting, generally of a romantic or sexual nature.
    Synonym: tryst
    • 1714, Alexander Pope, “The Rape of the Lock”, in The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, volume I, London: [] W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintot, [], published 1717, →OCLC, canto III:
      While nymphs take treats, or assignations give.
    • 1749, [John Cleland], “(Please specify the letter or volume)”, in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure [Fanny Hill], London: [] G. Fenton [i.e., Fenton and Ralph Griffiths] [], →OCLC:
      As soon as Mr. Barville saw me, he got up, with a visible air of pleasure and surprize, and saluting me, asked Mrs. Cole if it was possible that so fine and delicate a creature would voluntarily submit to such sufferings and rigours as were the subject of his assignation.
    • 1986, John le Carré, A Perfect Spy:
      What assignations followed we can never know, except that, according to Morrie, Rick did once boast that there was more than cake and lemon barley waiting for him up at The Glades when he delivered the church magazine.
    • 1996, David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest [], Boston, Mass.; New York, N.Y.: Little, Brown and Company, →ISBN, page 30:
      ‘That you could dare to imagine we’d fail conversationally to countenance certain weekly shall we say maternal … assignations with a certain unnamed bisexual bassoonist in the Albertan Secret Guard’s tactical-bands unit?’
  2. The act of assigning or allotting; apportionment.
    • 1659, T[itus] Livius [i.e., Livy], “(please specify the book number)”, in Philemon Holland, transl., The Romane Historie [], London: [] W. Hunt, for George Sawbridge, [], →OCLC:
      This order being taken in the senate, as touching the appointment and assignation of those provinces.
  3. A making over by transfer of title; assignment.

Usage notes[edit]

Modern usage confines the word to mean an agreed-upon place for illicit sex, but earlier usage is broader, and considerably more innocent.

Derived terms[edit]





From Latin assīgnātiōnem.



assignation f (plural assignations)

  1. (law) summons, subpoena

Related terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]