Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To admit the existence, reality, or truth of.
  • transitive v. To recognize as being valid or having force or power.
  • transitive v. To express recognition of: acknowledge a friend's smile.
  • transitive v. To express thanks or gratitude for.
  • transitive v. To report the receipt of: acknowledge a letter.
  • transitive v. Law To accept or certify as legally binding: acknowledge a deed.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To admit the knowledge of; to recognize as a fact or truth; to declare one's belief in; as, to acknowledge the being of a God.
  • v. To own or recognize in a particular quality, character or relationship; to admit the claims or authority of; to give recognition to.
  • v. To own with gratitude or as a benefit or an obligation; as, to acknowledge a favor.
  • v. To notify receipt, as of a letter.
  • v. To own as genuine or valid; to assent to, as a legal instrument, to give it validity; to avow or admit in legal form; as, to acknowledge a deed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To own or admit the knowledge of; to recognize as a fact or truth; to declare one's belief in.
  • transitive v. To own or recognize in a particular character or relationship; to admit the claims or authority of; to give recognition to.
  • transitive v. To own with gratitude or as a benefit or an obligation.
  • transitive v. To own as genuine; to assent to, as a legal instrument, to give it validity; to avow or admit in legal form.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To admit or profess a knowledge of; avow to be within one's knowledge or apprehension; own to be real or true; recognize the existence, truth, or fact of: as, to acknowledge God, or the existence of or belief in a God; to acknowledge the rights of a claimant.
  • To express or manifest perception or appreciation of; give evidence of recognizing or realizing: as, to acknowledge an acquaintance by bowing; to acknowledge a favor or one's faults.
  • To own the genuineness of; own as binding or of legal force: as, to acknowledge a deed.
  • To admit or certify the receipt of; give information of the arrival of: as, to acknowledge a letter or a remittance.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. express recognition of the presence or existence of, or acquaintance with
  • v. report the receipt of
  • v. accept as legally binding and valid
  • v. express obligation, thanks, or gratitude for
  • v. declare to be true or admit the existence or reality or truth of
  • v. accept (someone) to be what is claimed or accept his power and authority

Etymologies

Probably blend of Middle English knowlechen, to acknowledge (from knouen, to know; see know) and Middle English aknouen, to recognize (from Old English oncnāwan, to know : on-, on; see on + cnāwan, to know; see know).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Recorded since 1553, a blend (with a parasitic c slipped in) of Middle English aknow (from Old English oncnawan ("to understand"), itself from on with cnawan ("to recognize")) and knowlechen ("to admit"). Other sources derive it from the prefix a- with a verb knowledge, and compare acknow. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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