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

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from acquaintance

acquaintanceship \-ˌship \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for acquaintance


cognizance, familiarity



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

Cunanan had a reputation amongst friends and acquaintances as a pathological liar, and wove intricate tales about his upbringing and background to impress people. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The True Story Behind Andrew Cunanan & David Madson's Relationship on American Crime Story," 1 Mar. 2018 The acquaintance, Broc Gendron, 38, also was charged with drug possession and possession of paraphernalia, police said. Christine Dempsey,, "Enfield Police Find More Than 2 1/2 Pounds Of Pot In Car, Arrest 11 In One Day," 11 July 2018 Facebook also created a section in the Youth Portal about data privacy that shows teenagers how to change their user settings so that their posts or status updates only show to specific groups of people like their close friends or acquaintances. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "Facebook Creates Youth Portal to Give Teens Tips About Using Its Service," 14 May 2018 An acquaintance of the other teen, who has not been identified, said the 15-year-old just learned how to drive. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Two teens die in possible racing-related crash in SW Houston," 25 Apr. 2018 Barbara Bush’s devotion to literacy also dotted each speech - her national literacy foundation has raised more than $110 million since its start - as did her kindness to many friends and acquaintances. Jacob Carpenter And Emily Foxhall, San Antonio Express-News, "Thousands honor nation’s first mother as she is laid to rest," 21 Apr. 2018 Camps have responded by offering training courses for potential summer employees and offering bonuses to returning camp staff who recruit their friends or acquaintances. Johanna Seltz,, "Plenty of youth still keen on camp jobs," 13 Apr. 2018 Our gatherings are for family, friends, acquaintances and all notwypipo (an ancient Wakandan word that means ... Michael Harriot, The Root, "The Visitor’s Guide to Cookouts in Wakanda," 27 Mar. 2018 The house soon becomes crowded with family members, friends and acquaintances. Chagrin Valley Little Theatre,, "'The Country House' explores romance, egos, and discarded dreams in a touching, funny drama," 7 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

Share acquaintance

Dictionary Entries near acquaintance





acquaintance rape



Statistics for acquaintance

Last Updated

17 Sep 2018

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



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.

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).


alleviating pain or harshness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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