According to the word analysing website, Data-yze, ‘acquiesce’ is the 5521st most common word in the English language.
Given that most people use around 1000 words for 90% of their day-to-day communication, it is unlikely that you will hear the word spoken often.
Two songs and a play, penned in recent times, have the word ‘acquiesce’ in their title.
It is a favorite candidate in spelling bees because it contains a string of vowels and consonants in peculiar order, bound to flummox overeager contestants.
What does the word ‘acquiesce’ mean?
Acquiesce is a verb which means to accept a situation, decision or condition, reluctantly but without objection or protest. The noun formed from the word is ‘acquiescence’, and the adjective is ‘acquiescent’. Synonyms include accede, assent, comply, submit and yield. The word denotes passivity and is on the continuum of agreement, somewhere between concur and surrender. It is a term used in the absence of defiance, resistance or a challenge to the status quo.
Origins of the word, ‘acquiesce’.
The word stems from two Latin words, ‘ad’ and ‘quiscere’ which, when combined, mean to remain quiet or at rest. Effectively, it means to agree passively or to comply quietly.
It made its way into the English language in 1620, via the French word, ‘acquiescer’. The meaning, now obsolete, meant ‘to rest satisfied’.
The earliest written record of the word, ‘acquiesce’ is found in Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 treatise, entitled, ‘Leviathan’.
The renowned philosopher argued that the people of the day should acquiesce by subjecting themselves to the monarchy and obeying the teachings of the church.
How do you use the word ‘acquiesce’ in a sentence?
There are several prepositions that can be used with the verb, ‘acquiesce’ which subtly change the context.
‘Acquiesce to’ appears to be the preferred combination when referring directly to a decision or situation. Below are examples.
The preposition ‘in’ can also be used when the actions resulting from a decision are the object of the sentence, and not the decision itself.
When the object being agreed with, is abstract, e.g. an idea or principle, the preposition used is ‘with’.
When the word is used in the noun form, the prepositions ‘by’ and ‘of’ can also be used.
The deeper meaning of acquiescence
The term is used to describe the final decision made in a dispute or negotiation. It implies that the party acquiescing has received a less favourable outcome than the other.
Their rights may have been infringed and boundaries violated by the opponent.
It is not a comfortable subject to discuss. No one boasts of their acquiescence.
It is a condition of last resort, sometimes accepted in order to ‘keep the peace’ but usually at great personal cost. It flies in the face of having the freedom to choose.
People who routinely acquiesce, may be called doormats, minions, sock puppets or hen-pecked.
They allow what is demanded of them, without question. Consequently they are easily controlled by individuals or groups with more forceful personalities or tactics.
Use of the terms in various disciplines – acquiesce, acquiescence and acquiescent
Acquiescence Response Bias is a phenomenon that psychological researchers have to contend with when analysing survey results.
Between 10-20 percent of respondents will agree with statements whether they understand them or not.
The tendency among these people is to answer in the affirmative rather than to disagree.
This bias needs to be taken into account when assessing the validity of the findings.
In legal terms, the party that is acquiescing, knowingly accepts an infringement of their rights. They submit tacitly, with forbearance, and do not challenge the terms of the agreement.
The term is extended to those who do not challenge a ruling. For example, in a divorce settlement, if one party is not represented on the day of settlement, it is assumed that they acquiesce and will comply with the decision of the court.
Songwriter, Noel Gallagher, of the band Oasis, wrote the lyrics to the popular song, ‘Acquiesce’ while stuck on a stationary train for four hours.
He was inspired by overhearing another passenger say the word. His brother, Liam, sang the song without knowing what the title meant.
The macabre lyrics of ‘A Synonym of Acquiesce’ by Bayside relay the raw emotions of one who is depressed and finally contemplating giving in.
In political terms, acquiescence is the opposite of activism, resistance and struggle. A compliant citizenry would be described as an acquiescent population.
In his book, ‘The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power’, the author Steve Fraser claims that since the 1970s, there has been a lack of sustained resistance by the working class to a capitalist offensive.
Naomi Alderman, award-winning British author, wrote in a column for the Guardian newspaper, ”The politics of fear are always the same.
They are easily recognizable in retrospect. They are easy to acquiesce in at the time.” Note the use of the preposition, ‘in’.
Annoyance at acquiescence or apathy probably inspired Edmund Burke, the Irish philosopher, to pen the well-known quote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.