verb (used with object), ac·quired, ac·quir·ing.

  1. to come into possession or ownership of; get as one’s own: to acquire property.
  2. to gain for oneself through one’s actions or efforts: to acquire learning.
  3. Linguistics. to achieve native or nativelike command of (a language or a linguistic rule or element).
  4. Military. to locate and track (a moving target) with a detector, as radar.


  1. (tr) to get or gain (something, such as an object, trait, or ability), esp more or less permanently

c.1600, “gained by effort,” past participle adjective from acquire. Of diseases, “occurring after birth, thus not dependent on heredity,” 1842 (opposed to congenital). Acquired taste is attested from 1734.


mid-15c., acqueren, from Old French aquerre “acquire, gain, earn, procure,” from Vulgar Latin *acquaerere, from Latin acquirere “to seek in addition to” (see acquisition). Reborrowed in current form from Latin c.1600. Related: Acquired; acquiring.


  1. Of or relating to a disease, condition, or characteristic that is not congenital but develops after birth.
  2. Developed in response to an antigen, as resistance to a disease by vaccination or previous infection.
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