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 acquaintance (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 His cousin and another acquaintance fell ill from Covid-19 shortly after getting their first shots. Shan Li, WSJ, "India’s Covid-19 Surge Worsens as Nation Stumbles in Vaccine Expansion," 30 Apr. 2021 An acquaintance of Copeland’s in Utah confirmed with an FBI agent that Copeland had admitted to traveling to Washington, D.C., and getting into a scuffle with police. Sara Tabin, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Fifth Utahn charged over alleged involvement in U.S. Capitol riot," 29 Apr. 2021 Also, it should be noted that my long acquaintance with Ed Mahony predates the 31-year-old art heist and has involved years of discussions of the Gardner case and other profound topics, in the newsroom and at certain elite Hartford night spots. Jon Lender, courant.com, "Jon Lender: Connecticut gangster, Courant reporter featured in top-10 Netflix documentary series about world’s biggest art heist 31 years ago," 18 Apr. 2021 An acquaintance says that on a recent visit the patio was packed, but the dining room inside was almost empty. Ben Crandell, sun-sentinel.com, "10 things to do in Fort Lauderdale this weekend: Red noses, high heels and a circus downtown | Photos," 16 Apr. 2021 The other woman stayed behind while Wright and his acquaintance waited for their ride. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "Daunte Wright had multiple criminal charges on record when he was pulled over, court documents show," 14 Apr. 2021 On one occasion, an old acquaintance came in, seeking paperwork to visit her parents in Kazakhstan. Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker, "Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang," 5 Apr. 2021 One Asian American friend of hers had been shoved into traffic while waiting for the bus, and another acquaintance had nearly been run off the road while doing volunteer food delivery. Eveline Chao, Curbed, "The Chinatown Block Watch, One Year Later," 1 Apr. 2021 According to Times sources, the investigation into Gaetz is part of a broader probe into Joel Greenberg, a former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector and an acquaintance of Gaetz. Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY, "Report: Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz faces investigation over relationship with teen girl," 31 Mar. 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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Statistics for acquaintance

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Acquaintance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acquaintance. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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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