ac·​quain·​tance | \ə-ˈkwān-tᵊn(t)s \

Definition of acquaintance 

1a : the state of being acquainted They had a long-standing acquaintance.

b : personal knowledge : familiarity had no acquaintance with the facts of the case

2a : the persons with whom one is acquainted Should auld acquaintance be forgot …— Robert Burns

b : a person whom one knows but who is not a particularly close friend a casual acquaintance

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Other Words from acquaintance

acquaintanceship \ -​ˌship \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for acquaintance


cognizance, familiarity



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What's the difference between friends and acquaintances?

People often distinguish between an acquaintance and a friend, holding that the former should be used primarily to refer to someone with whom one is not especially close. Many of the earliest uses of acquaintance were in fact in reference to a person with whom one was very close, but the word is now generally reserved for those who are known only slightly.

Acquaintance is often found paired with nodding. Although nodding acquaintance sounds like it describes a person who is known just enough to nod at, it tends to be used instead to refer to a thing or field with which one has a small amount of knowledge or familiarity (and this is the meaning that the phrase has had since its introduction to the language in the early 19th century).

Examples of acquaintance in a Sentence

But Francis later found out that the dinner acquaintance who sweet-talked him got a thank-you check for three thousand pounds. — Julian Barnes, New Yorker, 20 Sept. 1993 But all those qualities are so wrapped up in others that one could hardly ask for two men who are, at first acquaintance, more different. — Peter Garrison, Air & Space, October/November 1991 A classical education, or at any rate a very extensive acquaintance with English literature, ancient and modern, appears to me quite indispensable for the person who would do any just to your clergyman; and I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress. — Jane Austen, letter, 11 Dec. 1815 She ran into an old acquaintance at the grocery store. our family's close acquaintance with our neighbors She struck up an acquaintance with a man from the city. He seemed cold at first, but on closer acquaintance I realized that he was just shy. While he has some acquaintance with the subject, he is not an expert.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Several employees and acquaintances have been brutally beaten by government thugs, while others have been abducted and tortured for refusing to pay fealty to the Sandinista party leadership. Margarita Herdocia, Time, "Nicaragua Is Heading Down the Same Dark Path as Venezuela," 13 June 2018 Latasha Barrett, 31, was charged with malicious wounding after what began as a verbal argument with an acquaintance escalated into a physical altercation, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. Stephen Sorace, Fox News, "'Twerking' dispute led woman to chomp off another's fingertip, authorities say," 13 July 2018 The conversation with an acquaintance outside the lunchroom doors. Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times, "They survived a school shooting as freshmen. Four years later, a diploma doesn’t erase the pain.," 10 June 2018 Authorities have not yet identified the deceased man who is also from Harvey and is described as an acquaintance of the homeowner, according to Lt. Michelle Hunter,, "Harvey homeowner fatally shoots intruder Wednesday morning," 30 May 2018 An acquaintance of his father joined us, and after the meal, drew out a container of sunscreen and asked me to apply this to his bare back, which caught me quite off guard. Robin Abrahams,, "Advice: How to politely reject a request for help applying sunscreen," 26 Apr. 2018 Jonny Redwolf Fulton, an acquaintance of the family, was staying with the family while in Newport for work, according to Newport police. Jim Ryan,, "Man arrested on suspicion of filming teen girl in Newport bathroom, records show," 9 Apr. 2018 An acquaintance of mine retweeted one of her daily readings into my feed, and I was taken with her simple, subtly political interpretation of the Three of Cups card. Katie Heaney, The Cut, "Does Your Therapy Need More Tarot?," 10 July 2018 Chicago police said an acquaintance of the family took the toddler without permission around 6:50 p.m. in the 600 block of West Harrison Street. Madeline Buckley,, "Woman questioned after child taken at Greyhound bus station," 26 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of acquaintance

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for acquaintance

Middle English acointance, aqueyntaunce, borrowed from Anglo-French acointance, aqueyntance, from acointer "to acquaint" + -ance -ance

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Statistics for acquaintance

Last Updated

29 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for acquaintance

The first known use of acquaintance was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for acquaintance



English Language Learners Definition of acquaintance

: someone who is known but who is not a close friend

: the state of knowing someone in a personal or social way : the state of knowing someone as an acquaintance

: knowledge about something


ac·​quain·​tance | \ə-ˈkwān-tᵊns \

Kids Definition of acquaintance

1 : a person someone knows slightly

2 : personal knowledge He has some acquaintance with car repair.

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Comments on acquaintance

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


playful or foolish behavior

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