Definition of cognate
- the cognate fields of film and theater
- a family cognate with another
- Spanish and French are cognate languages.
- English "eat" and German "essen" are cognate.
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English “eat” and German “essen” are cognate.
Spanish and French are cognate languages.
The story of "cognate" is all relative: that is, it's all about relatives. Cognate words share an ancestor, like "allude" and "prelude" (which both trace to the Latin root ludere) and the English "brother" and the German Bruder (which are both related to the Greek phrater). Cognate languages, like French, Spanish, and Italian, descend from the same ancestral language. People related through a common ancestor are cognate, and groups of people, such as tribes, can be cognate to one another. "Cognate" also describes things related in a more figurative way, as in "cognate developments," "cognate disciplines," or "cognate problems." "Cognate" itself comes from the Latin cognatus which traces to Latin nasci meaning "to be born." Some words cognate to "cognate" include "innate," "nascent," "native," and "Renaissance."
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cognate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
linguistics : having the same origin
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subject to rapid or unexpected change
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