[ uh-kwahyuhr ]
/ əˈkwaɪər /
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See synonyms for: acquire / acquired / acquiring / acquirable on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), ac·quired, ac·quir·ing.
to come into possession or ownership of; get as one's own: to acquire property.
to gain for oneself through one's actions or efforts: to acquire learning.
Linguistics. to achieve native or nativelike command of (a language or a linguistic rule or element).
Military. to locate and track (a moving target) with a detector, as radar.
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Origin of acquire

1400–50; from Latin acquīrere “to add to one's possessions, acquire” (ac- ac- + -quīrere, combining form of quaerere “to search for, obtain”); replacing late Middle English aquere from Middle French aquerre from Latin

synonym study for acquire

1. See get.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does acquire mean?

Acquire most commonly means to get, buy, or learn.

Acquire has a lot of meanings that vary with context. Most of them refer to the act of getting something permanently. It has more specific meanings in linguistics and in the context of the military. It’s easy to misspell acquire as aquire, so don’t forget the c.

Example: When the merger is complete, our company will have acquired its largest competitor.

Where does acquire come from?

Acquire comes from the Latin acquīrere, which means “to add to one’s possessions.” It is derived from the Latin quīrere, meaning “to search,” and the prefix ac-, meaning “toward.” The first records of acquire come from the 1400s.

In general, to acquire something is to get it in some way. It has slightly different shades of meaning depending on the context. Perhaps most commonly, it is used in the context of business to mean “to purchase,” especially when referring to the purchase of a company or property (which can be called an acquisition). You could say you acquired some new possessions when talking about things you bought, but that sounds very formal (usually you’d just say you bought them). However, you might use acquire in this way if what you’ve bought took you a long time or a lot of effort to get, as in I managed to acquire this really rare comic book as a gift for my friend. But acquiring things isn’t just about buying them. You can acquire things by learning them, such as skills. In the context of linguistics, to acquire a language means to become fluent in it.

Acquire can also mean “to pick up gradually or accidentally.” You can acquire some things as a result of your actions, such as enemies or a reputation. This gradual acquiring process can happen to things, too, as in This cheese acquires its sharp flavor through aging. (Such cheese might be considered an acquired taste, meaning you won’t like it right away, but will instead acquire a liking for it over time by continuing to try it.)

In military terms, to acquire a target is to locate and track it via some kind of detection, such as radar. (This is most often heard in the action movie cliché target acquired).

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What are some other forms related to acquire?

  • acquirable (adjective)
  • acquirability (noun)
  • acquirer (noun)
  • preacquire (verb)

What are some synonyms for acquire?

What are some words that share a root or word element with acquire

What are some words that often get used in discussing acquire?

What are some words acquire may be commonly confused with?


How is acquire used in real life?

Acquire is often more formal than synonyms like get or buy. It can be used in all kinds of contexts, but it is commonly used to refer to obtaining property, businesses, or other financial assets.



Try using acquire!

Is acquire used correctly in the following sentence? 

Ms. Johnson was able to acquire several new properties over the past year.

How to use acquire in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for acquire

/ (əˈkwaɪə) /

(tr) to get or gain (something, such as an object, trait, or ability), esp more or less permanently

Derived forms of acquire

acquirable, adjectiveacquirement, nounacquirer, noun

Word Origin for acquire

C15: via Old French from Latin acquīrere, from ad- in addition + quaerere to get, seek
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