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

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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

Synonyms

Antonyms

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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 Both males threatened the acquaintance and robbed him of cash and other items before fleeing. Washington Post, "Alexandria and Arlington crime watch," 23 Sep. 2020 Is that not a lie more inconsistent than Denise seeming like more of a casual friend with Brandi than an acquaintance? Jodi Walker, EW.com, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap: Denise Richards' last stand," 17 Sep. 2020 The acquaintance said the facility typically only collects a small percentage of what gets billed. Marshall Allen, ProPublica, "A Doctor Went to His Own Employer for a COVID-19 Antibody Test. It Cost $10,984.," 5 Sep. 2020 Those are the kind of surface-level words reserved for — all together now — an acquaintance. Jodi Walker, EW.com, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap: Where in the world is Brandi Glanville?," 10 Sep. 2020 An acquaintance left comments critical of her support for the senator and of Warren’s claims of Native American heritage. Dallas News, "Protests, pandemic, politics are shaping the social media identities of North Texas teens," 7 Sep. 2020 It was eventually reported that Te'o was the victim of a catfishing prank planned by three people, one being an acquaintance. Jason Duaine Hahn, PEOPLE.com, "Manti Te’o, Football Player Once Involved in Catfishing Hoax, Marries Girlfriend Jovi Nicole Engbino," 1 Sep. 2020 The prefect of police for Paris is an old acquaintance of Gamache’s and at first seems an ideal ally. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: Corporate Scandal in the City of Light," 28 Aug. 2020 Another acquaintance was Joe Chapman, who had recently been named a suspect in the robbery of the Third National Bank of Baltimore. Paul Brown, Longreads, "How Four Americans Robbed the Bank of England," 10 Aug. 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

26 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Acquaintance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acquaintance. Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for acquaintance

acquaintance

noun
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

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.

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Comments on acquaintance

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