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Receive vs Accept vs Admit vs Take

Receive, acceptadmittake can all mean to permit to come into one’s possession, presence, group, mind, or substance.

They are seldom interchangeable except within a narrow range and, even then, rarely without modification of the thought expressed.

Receive very often implies nothing more than what has been stated in the common definition; it may be predicated of persons or of things.

In general receive implies passiveness in the receiver even when the subject is a person and his response is indicated in the context.

Only when it implies welcoming or recognition does receive connote activity in the receiver.

Accept adds to receive an implication of some measure of mental consent, even of approval; thus, a person may be received but not necessarily accepted in society; an idea may be received but not accepted by the mind; one may receive without necessarily accepting an apology.

Frequently accept suggests tacit acquiescence rather than active assent or approval. Sometimes it connotes an uncritical attitude.

Sometimes it implies a surrender to the inevitable.

Admit is synonymous with receive only when the agent (the one that lets in) is the one that receives rather than introduces.

Admit, in this restricted sense, is distinguishable from receive by slight syntactical differences but chiefly by its strong implications of permission, allowance, or sufferance; thus, a judge admits evidence only after its admissibility has been questioned and he has allowed its entrance.

The situation remains the same when the subject is impersonal.

Admit, in contrast with accept, often adds the implication of concession; thus, one who admits the truth of a contention accepts it more or less unwillingly; one can accept a proposition without question, but one admits it only after he has questioned it.

Take is a synonym of receive only when it suggests no reaching out on one’s own part or of one’s own initiative to get hold of something (see also TAKE 1 ) or when it suggests an offering, presenting, conferring, or inflicting by another; it then implies merely a letting something be put into one’s hands, mind, possession, or control.