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

Essential Meaning of acquaintance

1 : someone who is known but who is not a close friend Is he an acquaintance of yours? [=have you met him?] She ran into an old acquaintance at the grocery store. See More ExamplesMy wife and I met through a mutual acquaintance. [=a friend introduced us to each other] a casual acquaintance friends and acquaintancesHide
2 formal : the state of knowing someone in a personal or social way : the state of knowing someone as an acquaintance our family's close acquaintance with our neighbors It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. [=(less formally) it's nice to meet you] See More ExamplesShe made the acquaintance of [=she met] a man from the city. She struck up an acquaintance with a man from the city. a doctor of my acquaintance [=a doctor that I know] He seemed cold on/at first acquaintance [=when I first met him], but later I realized that he was just shy. He seemed cold at first, but on closer/further acquaintance I realized that he was just shy.Hide
3 : knowledge about something She has only a nodding/slight/superficial acquaintance with the facts of the case. [=she knows only a little about the facts of the case] He has more than a passing acquaintance with wine. [=he knows a lot about wine] While he has some acquaintance with the subject, he is not an expert.

Full 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 acquaintance (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 Barnett says Anderson, who was not injured, is an acquaintance of Laura Townley's. Christine Pelisek,, 4 Oct. 2021 Seiver said the 45-year-old suspect, identified as Juan Luis Gonzales, tied up and beat his 47-year-old girlfriend and the 69-year-old man, who was an acquaintance of his. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Sep. 2021 The preliminary investigation indicates the victim was an acquaintance with the suspect. Carol Robinson |, al, 30 Aug. 2021 Birch was an acquaintance of some of Frankel's family members and had been living with her since January, Officer Carlos Cortes, a public information officer for Montgomery County police, told Fox News. Paul Best, Fox News, 30 July 2021 Jaffer, a dual Pakistani and U.S. citizen, was reportedly an acquaintance of Mukadam. Washington Post, 27 July 2021 The 75-year-old was an acquaintance of Masako Kenley, 53, who had been missing since Friday. Jordan Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 July 2021 Deputies found two people in the car: the driver, Leekhan Bryan, who was an acquaintance of Morrison, and a woman, said Longwood police Lt. Adam Bryant. David Harris,, 11 June 2021 The DNA Breitenecker saved from the victim matched the sample taken from the lookalike man, who was also an acquaintance of the victim. Isabel Seliger, ProPublica, 24 May 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near acquaintance



acquaintance rape

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Last Updated

21 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Acquaintance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for acquaintance


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on acquaintance

Nglish: Translation of acquaintance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of acquaintance for Arabic Speakers


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