Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Acquiesce

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is acquiesce. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

To acquiesce is to accept, agree, or allow something to happen by staying silent or by not arguing. The word is somewhat formal, and is often used with in or to.

// Eventually, the professor acquiesced to the students’ request to have the seminar’s final class be a potluck lunch.

ACQUIESCE in Context

“The light, then, was fading, but Morocco did not acquiesce. Deep into injury time, all hope almost extinguished, it carved out not one, not two, but three golden opportunities to score … to bring its fans—old and new, here and there—one last cause for celebration.” — Rory Smith, New York Times, 14 Dec. 2022

Did You Know?

If you’re looking to give your speech a gentle, formal flair, don’t give acquiesce the silent treatment. Essentially meaning “to comply quietly,” acquiesce has as its ultimate source the Latin verb quiēscere, “to be quiet.” (Quiet itself is also a close relation.) Quiēscere can also mean “to repose,” “to fall asleep,” or “to rest,” and when acquiesce arrived in English via French in the early 1600s, it did so with two senses: the familiar “to agree or comply” and the now-obsolete “to rest satisfied.” Herman Melville employed the former in Moby-Dick, when Ahab orders the “confounded” crew to change the Pequod’s course after a storm damages the compasses: “Meanwhile, whatever were his own secret thoughts, Starbuck said nothing, but quietly he issued all requisite orders; while Stubb and Flask—who in some small degree seemed then to be sharing his feelings—likewise unmurmuringly acquiesced.”

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