Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb ac·knowl·edge \ik-ˈnä-lij, ak-\

Simple Definition of acknowledge

  • : to say that you accept or do not deny the truth or existence of (something)

  • : to regard or describe (someone or something) as having or deserving a particular status

  • : to tell or show someone that something (such as a letter or message) has been received

Full Definition of acknowledge


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to recognize the rights, authority, or status of

  3. 2 :  to disclose knowledge of or agreement with

  4. 3 a :  to express gratitude or obligation for <acknowledge a gift> b :  to take notice of <failed to acknowledge my greeting> c :  to make known the receipt of <acknowledge a letter>

  5. 4 :  to recognize as genuine or valid <acknowledge a debt>

Examples of acknowledge

  1. They acknowledged that the decision was a mistake.

  2. Do you acknowledge that you caused this mess?

  3. They readily acknowledged their mistake.

  4. She won't acknowledge responsibility for her actions.

  5. He quickly acknowledges all of my e-mails when he receives them.

  6. Please acknowledge receipt of this letter.

  7. She acknowledged the gift with a card.

  8. She acknowledged his greeting with a smile.

Origin of acknowledge

ac- (as in accord) + knowledge

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of acknowledge

acknowledge, admit, own, avow, confess mean to disclose against one's will or inclination. acknowledge implies the disclosing of something that has been or might be concealed <acknowledged an earlier peccadillo>. admit implies reluctance to disclose, grant, or concede and refers usually to facts rather than their implications <admitted the project was over budget>. own implies acknowledging something in close relation to oneself <must own I know little about computers>. avow implies boldly declaring, often in the face of hostility, what one might be expected to be silent about <avowed that he was a revolutionary>. confess may apply to an admission of a weakness, failure, omission, or guilt <confessed a weakness for sweets>.

Rhymes with acknowledge

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up acknowledge? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

spindrift duvet kittly-benders pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.