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nodding acquaintance

a slight, incomplete, or superficial knowledge (of something or someone):
He had only a nodding acquaintance with Italian and didn't trust it to get him through the tour. Although we were neighbors for several years, we had only a nodding acquaintance.
a person with whom one is only slightly acquainted:
I don't really know what he's like—he's only a nodding acquaintance.
Origin of nodding acquaintance
First recorded in 1860-65 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for nodding acquaintance
Historical Examples
  • Marie had a nodding acquaintance with this neighbour of hers and no more.

    Local Color Irvin S. Cobb
  • But it can help; it can give it at least a nodding acquaintance there.

    The Whirligig of Time Wayland Wells Williams
  • He knew her, that is, he 29 had a nodding acquaintance with her.

    The Girl From His Town Marie Van Vorst
  • By this time you will have met the officers—Temple, Trobus, Jackson—and are coming to have a nodding acquaintance with the men.

    Caught by the Turks Francis Yeats-Brown
  • In her simplicity she did not know what it was till a hint from a nodding acquaintance enlightened her.

  • I knew it was either that or a nodding acquaintance, and I had made up my mind that it should be something quite different.

    A Daughter of the Vine

    Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
  • Perhaps it may be more literally correct to say that I had formed a nodding acquaintance with the most of them.

    Confessions of a Neurasthenic William Taylor Marrs
  • I have no particular desire to be struck by a shell or a bullet, and up to now I have had only a nodding acquaintance with either.

    The Red Horizon Patrick MacGill
  • Moderation is the inseparable companion of wisdom, but with genius it has not even a nodding acquaintance.

  • I had a nodding acquaintance with His Grace, whom I had once attended for scarlatina when he was a midshipman.

Idioms and Phrases with nodding acquaintance

nodding acquaintance

Superficial knowledge of someone or something, as in I have a nodding acquaintance with the company president, or She has a nodding acquaintance with that software program. This expression alludes to knowing someone just well enough to nod or bow upon meeting him or her. “Early 1800s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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