nodding acquaintance

a slight, incomplete, or superficial knowledge (of something or someone): He had only a nodding acquaintance with Italian and didn't trust it to get him through the tour. Although we were neighbors for several years, we had only a nodding acquaintance.
a person with whom one is only slightly acquainted: I don't really know what he's like—he's only a nodding acquaintance.

1860–65 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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