cog·​ni·​tive | \ ˈkäg-nə-tiv How to pronounce cognitive (audio) \

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

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
Recent Examples on the Web Human intelligence seeks to adapt to new environments by combining various cognitive process functions. Naveen Joshi, Forbes, 12 Aug. 2022 The Chagrin Falls therapeutic riding center serves students who face physical, cognitive or social/emotional challenges. Marc Bona, cleveland, 12 Aug. 2022 One group was given easy tasks, while the other was told to carry out more demanding versions of the same cognitive assignments. Alex Millson/bloomberg, Time, 11 Aug. 2022 This behavioral change was accompanied by a decrease in brain activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), an area involved in cognitive processes such as decision-making. Diana Kwon, Scientific American, 11 Aug. 2022 In the best-case scenario, people can avoid cognitive fatigue by building in breaks during the difficult thinking, Ackerman said. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, 11 Aug. 2022 One group was given easy tasks, while the other was told to carry out more demanding versions of the same cognitive assignments. Alex Millson, Fortune, 11 Aug. 2022 Despite his cognitive disability, Burt apparently had an innate knack for making lifelong friends. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Aug. 2022 The family of a boy on the autism spectrum is suing Access Charter School, a school for kids with cognitive and social disorders in Orlando, alleging staff repeatedly abused and restrained the student. Caroline Catherman, Orlando Sentinel, 10 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for cognitive

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The first known use of cognitive was in 1586

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Dictionary Entries Near cognitive



cognitive behavioral therapy

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Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cognitive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for cognitive


cog·​ni·​tive | \ ˈkäg-nət-iv How to pronounce cognitive (audio) \

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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