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verb (used with object), ac·knowl·edged, ac·knowl·edg·ing.
  1. to admit to be real or true; recognize the existence, truth, or fact of: to acknowledge one's mistakes.
  2. to show or express recognition or realization of: to acknowledge an acquaintance by nodding.
  3. to recognize the authority, validity, or claims of: The students acknowledged the authority of the student council.
  4. to show or express appreciation or gratitude for: to acknowledge a favor.
  5. to indicate or make known the receipt of: to acknowledge a letter.
  6. to take notice of or reply to: to acknowledge a greeting.
  7. Law. to confirm as binding or of legal force: to acknowledge a deed.

Origin of acknowledge

1475–85; acknowleche, apparently either Middle English aknou(en) to recognize (Old English oncnāwan; see a-1, know1) + -leche noun suffix (Old English *-lǣce, by-form of -lac; cf. knowledge, wedlock); or blend of aknouen and knouleche knowledge; then a- was mistaken for ac-
Related formsac·knowl·edge·a·ble, adjectiveac·knowl·edg·er, nounpre·ac·knowl·edge, verb (used with object), pre·ac·knowl·edged, pre·ac·knowl·edg··ac·knowl·edge, verb (used with object), re·ac·knowl·edged, re·ac·knowl·edg·ing.un·ac·knowl·edg·ing, adjective

Synonyms for acknowledge

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Synonym study

1. Acknowledge, admit, confess agree in the idea of declaring something to be true. Acknowledge implies making a statement reluctantly, often about something previously denied: to acknowledge a fault. Admit especially implies acknowledging something under pressure: to admit a charge. Confess usually means stating somewhat formally an admission of wrongdoing, crime, or shortcoming: to confess guilt; to confess an inability to understand.

Antonyms for acknowledge Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for acknowledge


verb (tr)
  1. (may take a clause as object) to recognize or admit the existence, truth, or reality of
  2. to indicate recognition or awareness of, as by a greeting, glance, etc
  3. to express appreciation or thanks forto acknowledge a gift
  4. to make the receipt of known to the senderto acknowledge a letter
  5. to recognize, esp in legal form, the authority, rights, or claims of
Derived Formsacknowledgeable, adjectiveacknowledger, noun

Word Origin for acknowledge

C15: probably from earlier knowledge, on the model of Old English oncnāwan, Middle English aknowen to confess, recognize
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for acknowledge

1550s, a blend of Middle English aknow (from Old English oncnawan "understand," from on + cnawan "recognize;" see know) and Middle English knowlechen "admit, acknowledge" (c.1200; see knowledge). In the merger, a parasitic -c- slipped in, so that while the kn- became a simple "n" sound (as in know), the -c- stepped up to preserve, in this word, the ancient "kn-" sound. Related: Acknowledged; acknowledging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper