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oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com:

The annual dinner is a chance to renew acquaintance with old friends.

If we're talking about old friends, that means we have already known them for a very long time.
But acquaintance itself means we haven't known them before.
So the phrase "acquaintance with old friends" carries a contradiction.
Could you explain it to me please?

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    The word renew is what important here. They are renewing their acquaintance. "old friends" means "friends from the past". The sentence is correct as written. There is no contradiction. Acquaintance has several meanings. One of those is "friendship". To renew one's acquaintance would be to renew one's friendship.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 10:25
  • "Acquaintance" doesn't mean "we haven't known them before". An acquaintance is someone you do know, but not very well. In this case, it refers to getting to know people better when we haven't seen them since last year. Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 13:15
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    @KateBunting You're confusing countable acquaintance (a person) with uncountable acquaintance (the concept of knowing someone or being in touch with someone). These are different words.
    – gotube
    Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 19:14
  • @gotube - Of course I know the difference between the two senses; I was just trying to explain it in the simplest terms. Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 8:17

2 Answers 2

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"Acquaintance" does not mean someone you have not met before.

"Acquaintance" has three meanings:

  1. a person that you have met but do not know well
  2. used in some expressions about knowing or meeting people "I wasn't sure about Darryl when I first met her, but on further acquaintance (= knowing her a little more) I rather like her."
  3. knowledge of a subject

In the sentence the meaning is number 2 - i.e. the annual dinner is a chance to get to know (again) friends from a long time ago.

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The expression "make your acquaintance" means to meet you for the first time. But the word "acquaintance" on its own means to be in touch with someone.

If you meet someone for the first time, you make their acquaintance.

If you continue to see that person, you two have an acquaintance.

If you stop seeing them, you break your acquaintance.

And finally, if you start seeing them again, you renew your acquaintance.

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  • Does "acquaintance" mean "communication" in your examples? Thanks.
    – Loviii
    Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 1:25
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    @Loviii Not quite. Being in touch with someone usually (necessarily?) involves communication, but the two don't mean the same thing. You cannot "make communication" with someone. When you communicate with someone, you create an acquaintance between you. The more you communicate, the stronger the acquaintance is. The longer you go without communicating, the weaker the acquaintance is. Think of "acquaintance" roughly as a weighted measure of communication against time.
    – gotube
    Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 17:53

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