A friend of mine used the following sentence:

I recently acquired a pizza stone to use for baking bread.

In Italian, comprare (buy) and acquistare (acquire, in a sentence like the previous one) both imply that I paid for something. Is it so also for English?

The reason I am asking is that I noticed that acquire is also used in cases where Italian would use acquisire, which normally doesn't imply any payment. My doubt is that, in the example sentence I used, acquire could not necessarily mean something was paid, but it could also mean something was obtained in other ways. Is it really so?

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    Per @bytebuster's first MW definition, because acquired is a relatively "unusual" word, using it would very often imply that you "came by" the pizza stone via some non-standard route - for example, it fell off the back of a lorry, or your millionaire Italian aunt just died, but the only thing she left you in her will was that pizza stone you'd always admired whenever you visited her as a child. – FumbleFingers Feb 16 '13 at 20:30
  • That is what I was thinking. By the way, your comment seems a good answer. :) I like the examples you made. – kiamlaluno Feb 16 '13 at 20:41
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    I'm guessing you might be Italian, so I made up the Italian aunt specially for you! If she's actually real, you can always practice hard and get really good at stonebaked pizza - then open a global chain of "authentic" pizzerias, and soon you'll be even richer than your sibling who got left all the money! – FumbleFingers Feb 16 '13 at 20:47

Merriam-Webster defines acquire as the following (highlight is mine):

a. to come into possession or control of often by unspecified means;
b. to come to have as a new or added characteristic, trait, or ability (as by sustained effort or natural selection);

So, you are right: acquire does not necessarily mean something was really bought.

It should be noticed that buy is quite informal, so it may happen that someone wants to use a more formal word. I would use purchase in this case, however.

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    +1 An elegant marriage of authority and relevance. ... the less formal variant of acquired might be got hold of (or to be really informal, got ahold of). – StoneyB on hiatus Feb 16 '13 at 21:39
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    I wouldn't be too concerned about the alleged informality of buy. It's an often-used word that isn't likely to be perceived as too informal (at least, not in the U.S.). – J.R. Feb 16 '13 at 23:15
  • @J.R. The NOAD says that buy used as noun is informal ("the wine is a good buy at $3.49"). As verb, it is not said to be informal, except in buy the farm, which means something else than buying. Does this match with your experience? (I could not find a word to use instead of experience. :)) – kiamlaluno Feb 23 '13 at 7:33
  • I would buy that. (By the way, the verb buy is also listed as informal, when it means "to believe", as in, "I'm not sure I buy that explanation.") But "I'm going to buy a pizza stone for my brother" would be fine; if anything, purchase might sound overly formal in a context like that. – J.R. Feb 23 '13 at 9:05

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