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

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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

This shortfall can potentially affect immune function, cognitive health, and up the risk of chronic illnesses, including heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Cynthia Sass, Mph,, "The Zero Carb Diet May Be a Simple Way to Lose Weight—But Is It Safe?," 8 July 2019 Interestingly, archaeologist Carl Feagans, who was not involved in the new research but has previously published on the practice, points out that the procedure appears to have had no negative impact on subjects’ cognitive function. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Ancient Chinese Graves Reveal Evidence of Early Skull Reshaping," 6 July 2019 Initial results showed some cognitive benefit, lead investigator Clive Holmes said, but after they were adjusted to reflect the number of tests, the benefits were deemed statistically insignificant. Washington Post, The Denver Post, "Colorado Alzheimer’s researchers shift focus after failures; begin testing leukemia medicine as treatment," 6 July 2019 At Santa Fe Christian, Jeremiah plays in the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra, a year-round program that serves students with cognitive differences, and gives students a chance to interact with the festival’s top artists. San Diego Union-Tribune, "North County School News, July 4," 4 July 2019 Meanwhile, the effects of increasing cognitive load on reaction time were modest. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Your eyes are the key to distracted driving, not your brain," 1 July 2019 Sherrie Utley-Barbee said in a statement read in court during McBride’s sentencing that the cognitive damage has caused her husband to engage in erratic and dangerous behavior., "Former Tigard cop injured in crash sues driver, driver’s ex-employer for $23.6 million," 28 June 2019 In addition to physical symptoms, there are also a handful of cognitive MS symptoms. Elissa Sanci, Woman's Day, "7 Early Symptoms of MS In Women," 13 June 2019 In the video, Earp advises her to get her memory checked, warning that studies show just 60 percent of seniors get regular cognitive assessments. Christine Condon,, "After seeing family members struggle, Hereford student does her part to help battle Alzheimer's," 25 June 2019

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

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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


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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Comments on cognitive

What made you want to look up cognitive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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