verb ac·knowl·edge \ ik-ˈnä-lij , ak- \
|Updated on: 3 Jul 2018

Definition of acknowledge

acknowledged; acknowledging
1 : to recognize the rights, authority, or status of
  • They acknowledged him as their leader.
2 : to disclose knowledge of or agreement with
  • She readily acknowledged her mistake.
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
4 : to recognize as genuine or valid
  • acknowledge a debt

Examples of acknowledge in a Sentence

  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.

Recent Examples of acknowledge from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'acknowledge.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of acknowledge

ac- (in acknow "to confess knowledge of," going back to Middle English aknowen, going back to Old English oncnāwan, acnāwan "to know, recognize, admit, confess," from a-, on-, prefixal use of on 1on + cnāwan "to 1know") + knowledge

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

ACKNOWLEDGE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of acknowledge for English Language Learners

  • : 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

ACKNOWLEDGE Defined for Kids


verb ac·knowl·edge \ ik-ˈnä-lij , ak- \

Definition of acknowledge for Students

acknowledged; acknowledging
1 : to admit the truth or existence of
  • They acknowledged their mistake.
2 : to make known that something has been received or noticed
  • He refuses to acknowledge my generosity.
3 : to recognize the rights or authority of
  • They acknowledged her as captain.
4 : to express thanks or appreciation for acknowledge a gift

Law Dictionary


transitive verb ac·knowl·edge

legal Definition of acknowledge

acknowledged; acknowledging
1 : to indicate recognition and acceptance of
  • the power of taxation in the general and state governments is acknowledged to be concurrent
  • McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819)
2 a : to show by word or act that one has knowledge of and accepts responsibility for (a duty, obligation, or indebtedness)
b : to admit paternity of
  • will acknowledge the child as his
— compare filiate
3 : to make known to a sender or giver the receipt of (what has been sent or given) or the fact of (one's having received what has been sent or given)
  • acknowledge receipt of a letter
4 : to recognize as genuine so as to give validity : avow or admit in legal form
  • the execution of any such power of attorney shall be acknowledged before one of the officers
  • U.S. Code

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