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

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Other Words from acquaintance

acquaintanceship \ ə-​ˈkwān-​tᵊn(t)s-​ˌship How to pronounce acquaintanceship (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for acquaintance



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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 That is an excellent time to make new acquaintances and to widen your social network, too. oregonlive, "Horoscope for March 15, 2020: Happy birthday Eva Longoria; Capricorn, do your homework on sales pitches," 15 Mar. 2020 But will these measures keep their kids, families and acquaintances safe? Melinda Wenner Moyer, New York Times, "Their School Is Open. But the Kids Are Staying Home.," 13 Mar. 2020 Family members and acquaintances made up the largest portion of suspects at 93%, while 98% of suspects were known or related in cases involving victims under 11 years old. USA TODAY, "Golden Gate bison, prisoner paintings, dining with dogs: News from around our 50 states," 6 Mar. 2020 Jaivon Abron, a friend of the suspect, Demarcus Little, and an acquaintance of the victim, Anitra Gunn, was taken into custody on Wednesday, Todd Crosby of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said at a news conference. Emily Shapiro, ABC News, "Friend charged with concealing death in Georgia college student's murder," 26 Feb. 2020 Theresa Medina Thomas, 29, an acquaintance of Jose’s who was driving the Trailblazer, was shot to death by HSI agents, police records show. azcentral, "Homeland Security Investigations agents involved in shootings nationwide," 24 Feb. 2020 Further, according to the Innocence Project, Ruiz did not match the description of the attacker, an acquaintance of the woman's. Joshua Bote, USA TODAY, "He went to prison 35 years ago for sexual assault. DNA showed he didn’t do it.," 30 Jan. 2020 The victim told authorities he was abducted from his Adger home by Rogers and Parsons, both acquaintances of the victim. Carol Robinson |, al, "Jefferson County pair charged in kidnapping, shooting of 53-year-old man," 7 Jan. 2020 Lee had made the acquaintance of co-author Fariba Karimi of GESIS, in Germany, earlier that year at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "It’s the network, stupid: Study offers fresh insight into why we’re so divided," 4 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for acquaintance

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for acquaintance

Last Updated

18 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Acquaintance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for acquaintance


How to pronounce acquaintance (audio)

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


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.

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Comments on acquaintance

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