tr.v. ac·knowl·edged, ac·knowl·edg·ing, ac·knowl·edg·es
1. To admit the existence or truth of: The doctors acknowledged that the treatment had not been successful.
a. To express recognition of; make notice of: "When he saw me acknowledge him, he smiled as if we were dear friends" (Angela Patrinos).
b. To express gratitude or appreciation for or to: acknowledged the contributions of the volunteers; acknowledged her editor in the preface to the book.
3. To report the receipt of (something) to the sender or giver: acknowledge a letter.
4. Law To accept or certify as legally binding: acknowledge a deed of ownership.
[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).]
Synonyms: acknowledge, admit, own, confess, concede
These verbs express an acceptance of the reality or truth of something, especially something inconvenient, embarrassing, or detrimental to oneself. To acknowledge is to openly accept the truth of something that is usually already known or suspected: She acknowledged her mistake in a statement to the press.
Admit can suggest the acknowledgment of behavior or intentions that one knows to be wrong, embarrassing, or unseemly: He admitted under questioning that he had falsified his résumé.
Own or more commonly own up stresses acceptance of personal responsibility: "Recovering addicts ... say that when you are really in recovery, you want to own up to everything related to your drug use" (Michael Bamberger).
Confess often suggests disclosure of something that one is uncomfortable keeping to oneself: I have to confess that I lied to you.
To concede is to accept, often with reluctance or qualifications, what cannot reasonably be denied: "He conceded that he himself was not a great performer, but felt he had something that was even more important than acting ability" (Jeffrey Meyers).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.