From Anglo-Norman aquaintaunce, aqueintance, Old French acointance (friendship, familiarity), from Old French acointer (to acquaint). Compare French accointance.

Morphologically acquaint +‎ -ance.



acquaintance (countable and uncountable, plural acquaintances)

  1. (uncountable) A state of being acquainted with a person; originally indicating friendship, intimacy, but now suggesting a slight knowledge less deep than that of friendship; acquaintanceship. [from 12th c.]
    I know of the man; but have no acquaintance with him.
    • 1799, William Jones (translator), Hito'pade'sa, in The Works, Volume 6, page 22:
      Contract no friendſhip, or even acquaintance, with a guileful man : he reſembles a coal, which when hot burneth the hand, and when cold blacketh it.
  2. (countable) A person or persons with whom one is acquainted. [from 14th c.]
  3. (uncountable) Such people collectively; one's circle of acquaintances (with plural concord). [from 15th c.]
    • 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Penguin 2004, p. 230:
      Their mother [] was busy in the mean time in keeping up her connections, as she termed a numerous acquaintance, lest her girls should want a proper introduction into the great world.
  4. Personal knowledge (with a specific subject etc.). [from 16th c.]
    • 1953, Samuel Beckett, Watt
      The words of these songs were either without meaning, or derived from an idiom with which Watt, a very fair linguist, had no acquaintance.

Usage notesEdit

  • Synonym notes: The words acquaintance, familiarity, and intimacy now mark different degrees of closeness in social intercourse. Acquaintance arises from occasional intercourse or interaction; as, "our acquaintance has been a brief one". We can speak of a slight or an intimate acquaintance. Familiarity is the result of continued acquaintance. It springs from persons being frequently together, so as to wear off all restraint and reserve; as, "the familiarity of old companions". Intimacy is the result of close connection, and the freest interchange of thought; as, "the intimacy of established friendship".


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