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

cognizance, familiarity

Antonyms

unfamiliarity

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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

The man pulled out a knife and pushed the acquaintance down an embankment. Lisa M. Bolton, Washington Post, "Prince William County," 28 Aug. 2019 The two men had stopped in the 4900 block of Fair Park Boulevard, near East Seminary Drive, to drop off a package for the driver's wife when the acquaintance slid over and drove away, police said. Dallas News, "Car reported stolen in Fort Worth may not have had 1-year-old in it, police say," 25 Aug. 2019 No gender is exempted from state terror, and part of this show’s particular relevance to our time involves the intimate acquaintance with state terror that many of its artists had. Esther Allen, The New York Review of Books, "Returning the Gaze, with a Vengeance," 8 July 2018 The acquaintance drove the victim to the hospital, Strange said. Lisa Maria Garza, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Orlando teen shot at Wawa gas station while looking at gun, deputies say," 7 June 2018 The acquaintance pulled out a gun and demanded money from the 24-year-old male roommate. Hanna Krueger, NOLA.com, "Woman demands money from boyfriend at gunpoint in Algiers: NOPD," 30 Mar. 2018 The acquaintance then ran back to the vehicle and the two males drove off. Sun-Sentinel.com, "West Boca Crime Log: Feb. 26 - March 4," 20 Mar. 2018 While traveling the country doing legal work, Travis made the acquaintance of militants opposed to the 1830 law. Robert Kolarik, San Antonio Express-News, "Time draws nigh for the attack," 4 Mar. 2018 The acquaintance reached across and took hold of my wrist to kiss me. Abigail Jones, Newsweek, "International Women’s Day: Gloria Steinem on #MeToo, Trump and Making Change Happen," 28 Feb. 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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near acquaintance

ACP

acpt

acquaint

acquaintance

acquaintance rape

acquaintant

acquainted

Statistics for acquaintance

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for acquaintance

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

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More Definitions for acquaintance

acquaintance

noun

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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