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

Did you know?

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 All of them lack the scale of powerful, acquisitive French rivals LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and Kering SA. Flavia Rotondi, Fortune Europe, 20 May 2024 The Frieze Art Fair and the Met’s Costume Institute gala start the May art season, which flowers in all its mercenary, status-seeking, and acquisitive splendor. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 18 May 2024 The retailer has been on an acquisitive streak in recent years, buying brands including FatFace, Joules, Cath Kidston, and Jennifer Creery, Fortune Europe, 21 Mar. 2024 Mews has also been decidedly acquisitive, buying eight other companies to date. Allie Garfinkle, Fortune, 4 Mar. 2024 Its Tokyo bosses seem excited by the prospects, but both organic and acquisitive growth will be tricky. Patrick Frater, Variety, 1 Mar. 2024 Mashups are now constructed with no real deliberateness but as part of a steady acquisitive spree through the videos that crowd our screens. Thomas Mallon, The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2023 However, his acquisitive wife, who had no such scruples, accepted in his stead, and this became the Summer White House. Martin Filler, The New York Review of Books, 9 Nov. 2023 This uncanny permanence fails to spark the acquisitive impulse in us. Meghan O'Gieblyn, WIRED, 16 Aug. 2023

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 14 Jun. 2024.

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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