acquaintance

noun
ac·​quain·​tance | \ ə-ˈkwān-tᵊn(t)s How to pronounce acquaintance (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from acquaintance

acquaintanceship \ -​ˌship How to pronounce acquaintanceship (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for acquaintance

Synonyms

cognizance, familiarity

Antonyms

unfamiliarity

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

After collecting and analyzing 503 pieces of his navel fluff and interviewing male acquaintances, Steinhauser concluded that abdominal hair is largely responsible for navel lint. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Excuse Me, What Even Is Belly Button Lint?," 1 Mar. 2019 Prosecutors also called on Kelly acquaintances who said the man in the video was clearly Kelly. Michael Tarm, The Seattle Times, "Legal hurdles would look familiar in any new R. Kelly case," 20 Feb. 2019 Once or twice a week, Hayward meets up with a group of college acquaintances who also landed in New York to grab drinks or go to an art opening. Maggie Bullock, Marie Claire, "Where Did All My Girlfriends Go?," 10 Dec. 2018 There's a whole variety of ways to make their acquaintance. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "How Super7 Built a Business Around the Toys No One Else Would Dare Make," 20 Mar. 2019 Although stiff and formal with acquaintances, Benjamin Harrison opened up with his family. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "The GOP's Pollyanna problem," 20 Aug. 2018 Schoenstedt rode down with Carlson and, after the event, Schoenstedt took the train home while Carlson remained downtown to spend time with other acquaintances. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "Teen charged with carjacking Will County judge in Greektown," 28 June 2018 His interviews with the kings’ acquaintances and business partners are usually insightful and often amusing. Adam O’neal, WSJ, "‘3 Kings’ Review: From Rap to Riches," 29 Mar. 2018 Working with close acquaintances Code Kunst and MRSHLL, the former of whom DJed on stage for Lee at SXSW while the latter sat in on the interview, has helped her enjoy the creative experience more. Tamar Herman, Billboard, "Lee Hi Talks Upcoming Album & Korean Music's Global Appeal," 21 Mar. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about acquaintance

Dictionary Entries near acquaintance

ACP

acpt

acquaint

acquaintance

acquaintance rape

acquaintant

acquainted

Statistics for acquaintance

Last Updated

16 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for acquaintance

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for acquaintance

acquaintance

noun

English Language Learners Definition of acquaintance

: someone who is known but who is not a close friend
formal : the state of knowing someone in a personal or social way : the state of knowing someone as an acquaintance
: knowledge about something

acquaintance

noun
ac·​quain·​tance | \ ə-ˈkwān-tᵊns How to pronounce acquaintance (audio) \

Kids Definition of acquaintance

1 : a person someone knows slightly
2 : personal knowledge He has some acquaintance with car repair.

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

an act or instance of returning to life

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!