cog·​ni·​tive | \ˈkäg-nə-tiv \

Definition of cognitive 

1 : of, relating to, being, or involving conscious intellectual activity (such as thinking, reasoning, or remembering) cognitive impairment

2 : based on or capable of being reduced to empirical factual knowledge

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Other Words from cognitive

cognitively adverb

How Should You Use cognitive?

Cognitive skills and knowledge involve the ability to acquire factual information, often the kind of knowledge that can easily be tested. So cognition should be distinguished from social, emotional, and creative development and ability. Cognitive science is a growing field of study that deals with human perception, thinking, and learning.

Examples of cognitive in a Sentence

Homo sapiens' survival is founded in their filling an evolutionary niche referred to as the cognitive niche. — Daniel Grassam, Skeptical Inquirer, July/August 2001 Researchers are debating whether heading balls can dent the cognitive skills of young soccer players for life. — Lisa McLaughlin, Time, 5 June 2000 Further into the forebrain, motor functions trail off and cognitive functions, involving planning and thinking about the future, begin. — Sandra Blakeslee, New York Times, 8 Nov. 1994
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Recent Examples on the Web

Children who bond early with their fathers (or father figures), in fact, often possess sharper cognitive skills, are better problem-solvers and perform more strongly in school, putting them at an advantage over children with distant or absent dads. Bevone Ritchie, M.s., miamiherald, "Male role models make a huge impact on a child's life," 12 June 2018 Elders can become victims because their cognitive skills and memories, especially in their 80s and 90s, often have diminished. Doug Williams,, "‘Excuse me, but where were you when all this was going on?’," 4 June 2018 Over time, this can cause loss of speech and cognitive skills, intellectual disabilities, cardiac issues, seizures, inhibited mobility and dementia, according to the Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation. Jason Duaine Hahn,, "Family Fights to Save 6 Year Old with Childhood Alzheimer’s: 'He's the Light of My Life,' Says Mom," 25 May 2018 Movements that require concentration and memorization are excellent for preserving cognitive skills., "A decade-by-decade guide for staying fit for life," 16 May 2018 As a patient's memory falters and cognitive skills fade, what is to become of the firearms that have long been a source of pride and a mark of responsible adulthood? Melissa Healy,, "As more older Americans struggle with dementia, what happens to their guns?," 11 May 2018 With appropriate intervention they can be taught helpful cognitive and behavioral coping skills to avoid long-term functional disability. Andrea K. Mcdaniels,, "Treat pain in children differently than adults," 3 May 2018 Because there were less toys to choose from, the children used their creative instincts and explored different ways to use the same toy, further developing their cognitive skills. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Kids Are Actually Happier With Fewer Toys, Science Says," 18 Apr. 2018 Some children with cerebral palsy struggle with moving, speaking or reading, but Caleb is cognitive and mainly struggles with movement in the lower half of his body. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "Kids make strides using new technology at Norton Healthcare," 7 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cognitive.' 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 cognitive

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cognitive

borrowed from Medieval Latin cognitīvus "concerned with knowing," from Latin cognitus, past participle of cognōscere "to get to know, acquire knowledge of" + -īvus -ive — more at cognition

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Statistics for cognitive

Last Updated

1 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for cognitive

The first known use of cognitive was in 1586

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More Definitions for cognitive



English Language Learners Definition of cognitive

: of, relating to, or involving conscious mental activities (such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering)


cog·​ni·​tive | \ˈkäg-nət-iv \

Medical Definition of cognitive 

: of, relating to, or being conscious intellectual activity (as thinking, reasoning, remembering, imagining, or learning words) the cognitive elements of perception— C. H. Hamburg

Other Words from cognitive

cognitively adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on cognitive

Spanish Central: Translation of cognitive

Nglish: Translation of cognitive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cognitive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cognitive

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playful or foolish behavior

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