Let's say I know and have met a person about 2-3 times and we know each other only on first-name basis(a distant acquaintance if it is), and I am trying to contact a mutual friend(a close friend of my acquaintance) on email and want to refer to this distant acquaintance by one word. Is there such a word that doesn't seem like an overkill.

  • There is the term distant friend (based on distant relative) but it might sound wrong.
    – ermanen
    Dec 3, 2015 at 17:32
  • @ermanen – agreed that it would sound wrong for the current purpose.
    – RJH
    Dec 3, 2015 at 17:45
  • 1
    There are a dozen different ways, depending on the nature of the relationship. "I know him to say 'Hi!'" is one way of saying that you might nod and wave if you pass him on the street. But because this kind of thing has so many variations, it's unlikely there's a single word you can use.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 16, 2015 at 19:51

1 Answer 1


I can't think of or find a lone word that would work on its own. My thought would be no, there isn't one. I think you might need to stick with a short phrase. (It doesn't seem inconceivable that other languages might have a single word, or there might be a slang term, though I find no hits in my mind or my research.)

Perhaps you're scarcely acquainted or hardly acquainted or barely acquainted.

To me distant(ly) seems more appropriate for the description of a relation/relative, except that you might have a vague recollection of meeting in the distant past, so that the memory might seem distant.

But a "distant acquaintance" on the pattern of a "distant relative" does have some charm – in fact it sounds a bit tongue-in-cheek.

  • Nothing wrong, ended up using distant :) Curious if there is such a term Dec 3, 2015 at 9:42
  • Can you provide definitions for the phrases you have suggested please?
    – 7caifyi
    Dec 3, 2015 at 14:57
  • Edited to respond to comments.
    – RJH
    Dec 3, 2015 at 17:30
  • @Slartibartfast – not a bad choice.
    – RJH
    Dec 3, 2015 at 17:43
  • 2
    Another variant is casual acquaintance.
    – ab2
    Dec 16, 2015 at 20:29

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