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 Two days after the car was stolen, Gutierrez said, a mutual acquaintance told Ward that the car was in Santa Rosa and drove him there to retrieve it. Steve Rubenstein,, "Petaluma man who died after sheriff’s deputy’s choke-hold had just retrieved his stolen car," 3 Dec. 2019 The skilled craftspeople of my acquaintance beg to differ. Erin Valdez, National Review, "No, You Don’t ‘Have to Go to College to Become a Welder’," 2 Dec. 2019 At a recent children’s birthday party, my adult daughters were approached by a family acquaintance about getting bone marrow tested. Abigail Van Buren, Twin Cities, "Dear Abby: Girlfriend learns the secret behind man’s cheap rent," 28 Nov. 2019 Bond was denied Friday for a 28-year-old man accused of forcing his way into a south suburban home earlier this week and killing his ex-girlfriend’s male acquaintance in an exchange of gunfire. Jason Meisner,, "Bail denied for man charged in fatal Ford Heights shooting," 28 Nov. 2019 At a recent children’s birthday party, my adult daughters were approached by a family acquaintance about getting bone marrow tested. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, "Dear Abby: Is cheap rent worth a business relationship with boyfriend’s ex?," 28 Nov. 2019 The bodies were discovered by John Karnes, 29, a business acquaintance of Hinson and Gierse. Diana Penner, Indianapolis Star, "The infamous 1971 LaSalle Street murders remain unsolved," 26 Nov. 2019 While our close relations seem to have a big impact on our meal size - in part because the meal can go on for hours - the analysis found no major difference in food intake when people eat alone vs. with strangers and acquaintances. Kellie B. Gormly, Anchorage Daily News, "Yes, you do eat more at the holidays. Evolution trained you to.," 26 Nov. 2019 But a lot can happen in six years: Many of the children who were recess pals in 2013 are middle- or high-school acquaintances now. Lacey Vorrasi-banis,, "What parents should know before taking their kids to see Frozen 2: Opinion," 20 Nov. 2019

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

10 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Acquaintance.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 15 December 2019.

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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

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


delight or enjoyment

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