Over two decades, she enjoyed a memorable and mystifying acquaintanceship with Ramirez.

Does it precisely mean that the suffix -ship "denotes a state of being"?

After having read that definition, I conclude that fellowship is the state of being fellow, but, I wonder, is not "fellow" already a state of being? How can a person be a fellow without having that state?

And, in the sentence above (The New York Times), why does the journalist use "acquaintanceship" rather than "acquaintance"—perhaps the fact that the state perdured "over two decades"? What does -ship add to "acquaintance"?

  • 1
    I think its just journalistic license. "acquaintance" by itself is OK. grammarist.com/usage/acquaintanceship . en.wiktionary.org/wiki/acquaintanceship says "uncountable" but that would not apply to this example. Maybe "...mystifying acquaintanceship with others."
    – user485
    Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 22:58
  • 1
    @Carlo_R. Fellowship is only the state of being [a] fellow when fellow has its specialised academic sense (but in such contexts the extension in meaning is actually more akin to professorship). In other contexts, fellowship is much more like friendship or companionship - it identifies the nature of a relationship. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 2:40

1 Answer 1


Acquaintance means "a person that you know but who is not a close friend" or "slight friendship"; acquaintanceship means "a slight friendship with somebody or knowledge of something."

I take you can use acquaintance instead of acquaintanceship at least in sentences like the following one.

He hoped their acquaintance would develop further.

Generally speaking -ship can mean many things, including "the state of quality of" (e.g. friendship), "the status or office of (e.g. citizenship, professorship).

  • kiam, I know friendship means "amicizia", but I cannot think to an Italian word for "professorship" except "professorato", which don't seem a word. Please, explain.
    – user114
    Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 23:24
  • 1
    Professorship can be both professorato or cattedra universitaria.
    – apaderno
    Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 23:27
  • 3
    @Carlo_R.: In general, xxxx-ship denotes the state or condition of being xxxx, but each individual term thus formed will have its own specific meaning. For example, craftsmanship doesn't usually mean the state of being a craftsman - it's usually applied to things which have been created by a craftsman. And professorship is the office of a professor in the same way presidency is the office of being president. It just so happens that for acquaintaince we often use the bare root word where it's possible to use the derived term acquaintanceship (it's a synonym). Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 2:09

You must log in to answer this question.