cog·​nate | \ ˈkäg-ˌnāt How to pronounce cognate (audio) \

Definition of cognate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of the same or similar nature : generically alike the cognate fields of film and theater
2 : related by blood a family cognate with another also : related on the mother's side
3a : related by descent from the same ancestral language Spanish and French are cognate languages.
b of a word or morpheme : related by derivation, borrowing, or descent English "eat" and German "essen" are cognate.
c of a substantive : related to a verb usually by derivation and serving as its object to reinforce the meaning (such as song in "she sang a song")



Definition of cognate (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that is cognate with another "Eat" and "essen" are cognates.

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Other Words from cognate


cognately adverb

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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."

Examples of cognate in a Sentence

Adjective English “eat” and German “essen” are cognate. Spanish and French are cognate languages.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Hence his own always dubious business celebrity became cognate with the mantra of Making America Great Again. Kyle Edward Williams, The New Republic, 9 Dec. 2020 In their millenarian ardor and inflexible support for Israel, the neocons find themselves in a position precisely cognate to evangelical Christians—both groups of true believers trying to enact their vision through an apostate. Jacob Heilbrunn, The New Republic, 23 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With its Latin underpinnings, both English and Spanish share many cognates, words that have the same origin. Corbett Smith, Dallas News, 2 Apr. 2020 And though there’s debate about where the bean first appeared, there’s little dispute that the word coffee is a cognate of qahwah, the Arabic word for both the bean and drink. Hasan Dudar, Detroit Free Press, 13 Jan. 2018 That Hulu show was the evening’s big winner because its insane prophecy is the Left’s cognate to the broadcasts of those TV pastors who draw an endless pool of suckers by selling the notion that Judgment Day is surely right around the corner. Kyle Smith, National Review, 18 Sep. 2017 Like cognates between English and Spanish (which are due in part to their common descent from the Indo-European language family), there are similarities between Miami and other Algonquian languages. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, 19 Apr. 2017 Overlooking Central Park, the restaurant was pitched as the Manhattan cognate of the French Laundry. Gabe Ulla, Town & Country, 8 Sep. 2016 Between Catawba and English, there are few cognates, and some sounds are foreign to the English tongue. John Paul Brammer, NBC News, 8 May 2017 Like cognates between English and Spanish (which are due in part to their common descent from the Indo-European language family), there are similarities between Miami and other Algonquian languages. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, 19 Apr. 2017 See More

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.

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First Known Use of cognate


circa 1645, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1754, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cognate


Latin cognatus, from co- + gnatus, natus, past participle of nasci to be born; akin to Latin gignere to beget — more at kin

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Time Traveler for cognate

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The first known use of cognate was circa 1645

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Dictionary Entries Near cognate



cognate inclusion

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Cite this Entry

“Cognate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on cognate

Nglish: Translation of cognate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cognate for Arabic Speakers


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