ac·​quire | \ ə-ˈkwī(-ə)r How to pronounce acquire (audio) \
acquired; acquiring

Definition of acquire

transitive verb

1 : to get as one's own:
a : to come into possession or control of often by unspecified means acquire property The team acquired three new players this year.
b : to come to have as a new or added characteristic, trait, or ability (as by sustained effort or natural selection) acquire fluency in French bacteria that acquire tolerance to antibiotics
2 : to locate and hold (a desired object) in a detector acquire a target by radar

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for acquire


cultivate, develop, form



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of acquire in a Sentence

The two ships were acquired by the navy after the war. The team acquired three new players this year. The old word has acquired a new meaning. This apparently minor event has acquired increasing significance in recent weeks. He is studying the way that language is acquired by children.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

McCreery was placed on the 40-man roster after the Dodgers acquired him from the Atlanta Braves during the offseason. Jorge Castillo,, "Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly returns to Fenway Park as a visitor," 13 July 2019 The work drops from the record until the late 18th or early 19th century when the Swiss painter Angelica Kaufmann (1741-1839), then living in Rome, acquired it. New York Times, "What Leonardo da Vinci Couldn’t Finish," 11 July 2019 But those improvements alone don't guarantee success: As front offices continue to adapt, especially in their analysis of veteran value, teams have shied away from trading top prospects right when the Tigers are trying to acquire them. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Like it or not, extending Al Avila's contract is the right move. Here's why:," 6 July 2019 Trade rumors followed Davis until he was ultimately dealt to the Lakers in a deal where LA gave away three first round picks and a host of young talent to acquire him. David Harten, The Courier-Journal, "DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo reportedly signing with Lakers, joining Anthony Davis," 6 July 2019 In acquiring him from Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Cincinnati splashed major allocation money – up to $825,000 – and a 2019 international roster spot. Pat Brennan,, "FC Cincinnati signs Kendall Waston to contract extension," 3 July 2019 The recordings had only been viewed three times before George acquired them in 1976, and are the last remaining first-generation recordings of Armstrong’s historic first steps on the lunar surface, Sotheby’s states. Matt Mcnulty,, "Former NASA Intern Bought Moon Landing Recordings for $217 — Now They Could Fetch $2 Million," 2 July 2019 The night of the 2016 draft, the Sun acquired her from Los Angeles, which had taken her with the sixth pick. Dom Amore,, "Dom Amore: As Jonquel Jones flourishes with Connecticut Sun, she hopes to create opportunities back home in Bahamas," 1 July 2019 Several companies, including Facebook and Disney , were considering acquiring it, according to a former Bytedance employee. Yoko Kubota, WSJ, "TikTok’s Videos Are Goofy. Its Strategy to Dominate Social Media Is Serious.," 29 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'acquire.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of acquire

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for acquire

borrowed from Latin acquīrere, from ad- ad- + quaerere "to seek, gain, obtain, enquire"; replacing earlier aquere, going back to Middle English aqweren, borrowed from Anglo-French acquerre, going back to Vulgar Latin *acquaerere, restructuring (by restoring the vocalism of quaerere) of acquīrere — more at quest entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about acquire

Statistics for acquire

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for acquire

The first known use of acquire was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for acquire



English Language Learners Definition of acquire

formal : to get (something) : to come to own (something) : to come to have (something)
: to gain (a new skill, ability, etc.) usually by your own effort


ac·​quire | \ ə-ˈkwīr How to pronounce acquire (audio) \
acquired; acquiring

Kids Definition of acquire

: to get especially through effort : gain acquire a skill


transitive verb
ac·​quire | \ ə-ˈkwī(ə)r How to pronounce acquire (audio) \
acquired; acquiring

Medical Definition of acquire

: to come to have as a new or additional characteristic, trait, or ability (as by sustained effort, by mutation, or through environmental forces) a cognitive system…that is acquired in early childhood— Noam Chomsky bacteria that acquire tolerance to antibiotics insects that acquire resistance to insecticides

Keep scrolling for more


transitive verb
ac·​quire | \ ə-ˈkwīr How to pronounce acquire (audio) \
acquired; acquiring

Legal Definition of acquire

: to come into possession, ownership, or control of : obtain as one's own the target's directors don't want the company to be acquired— R. C. Clark the court acquired jurisdiction

Other Words from acquire

acquirer also acquiror \ ə-​ˈkwīr-​ər \ noun

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on acquire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with acquire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for acquire

Spanish Central: Translation of acquire

Nglish: Translation of acquire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of acquire for Arabic Speakers

Comments on acquire

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


to complain fretfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!