ac·​quis·​i·​tive ə-ˈkwi-zə-tiv How to pronounce acquisitive (audio)
: strongly desirous of acquiring and possessing
acquisitively adverb
acquisitiveness noun

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While acquisitive is a useful synonym of the likes of greedy and avaricious, it's relatively unknown compared to its more popular lexical relations, acquire and acquisition. The former of that pair is most often used to mean "to get as one's own," as in "skills acquired through practice"; the latter refers either to the act of acquiring something, as in "the acquisition of skills," or to something or someone acquired or gained, as in "the museum's recent acquisitions." All three have as their ultimate source the Latin word acquīrere, meaning "to acquire." While acquire and acquisition have both been in use since the 15th century, acquisitive is a bit younger. The word has a somewhat rare use meaning "capable of acquiring" that dates to the late 16th century, but its "greedy" meaning dates only to the early 19th century.

Choose the Right Synonym for acquisitive

covetous, greedy, acquisitive, grasping, avaricious mean having or showing a strong desire for especially material possessions.

covetous implies inordinate desire often for another's possessions.

covetous of his brother's country estate

greedy stresses lack of restraint and often of discrimination in desire.

greedy for status symbols

acquisitive implies both eagerness to possess and ability to acquire and keep.

an eagerly acquisitive mind

grasping adds to covetous and greedy an implication of selfishness and often suggests unfair or ruthless means.

a hard grasping businesswoman who cheated her associates

avaricious implies obsessive acquisitiveness especially of money and strongly suggests stinginess.

an avaricious miser

Examples of acquisitive in a Sentence

acquisitive developers are trying to tear down the historic home and build a shopping mall
Recent Examples on the Web This uncanny permanence fails to spark the acquisitive impulse in us. Meghan O'Gieblyn, WIRED, 16 Aug. 2023 That streaming future is the one piece of the puzzle where Iger still appears acquisitive. Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 July 2023 The film casts a cynical side-eye at the acquisitive ethos of the Reagan ’80s, told with a hypnotic sense of style. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 7 July 2023 At its recent annual strategy presentation, Sony said that the group aims to continue to be acquisitive in its entertainment verticals – global film and TV (known as the ‘pictures division’), games hardware and software, and music. Patrick Frater, Variety, 31 May 2023 Citizens has been acquisitive in the past few years. Luisa Beltran, Fortune, 30 May 2023 His reaction foreshadows Chalky’s subsequent affair with Daughter Maitland (Margot Bingham), a woman whose youth and light-skinned beauty stand in for the acquisitive tendencies in Chalky’s character, born in feelings of anxiety over his hard looks, dark skin, and poor upbringing. Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture, 7 Sep. 2021 The wobbliest of unicorns may also rethink their store expansion strategies and/or run into the arms of an acquisitive suitor. Steve Dennis, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2023 The acquisitive Geely chief is reportedly interested in adding Aston Martin to his mixed bag of brands, which includes Volvo, Polestar, and Lotus. Georg Kacher, Car and Driver, 10 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'acquisitive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from French & Late Latin; French acquisitif, going back to Middle French, borrowed from Late Latin acquīsītīvus "acquired, involving gain or possession," from Latin acquīsītus (past participle of acquīrere "to acquire") + -īvus -ive

First Known Use

1835, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of acquisitive was in 1835


Dictionary Entries Near acquisitive

Cite this Entry

“Acquisitive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ac·​quis·​i·​tive ə-ˈkwiz-ət-iv How to pronounce acquisitive (audio)
: having a strong wish to acquire things
acquisitiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on acquisitive

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