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adverb or adjective

in·​cog·​ni·​to ˌin-ˌkäg-ˈnē-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce incognito (audio)
 also  in-ˈkäg-nə-ˌtō
: with one's identity concealed


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plural incognitos
: one appearing or living incognito
: the state or assumed identity of one living or traveling incognito or incognita

Did you know?

The ancient Greeks and Romans knew that there were times when you didn't want to be recognized. For example, a myth tells how Zeus and Hermes visited a village incognito and asked for lodging. The apparently penniless travelers were turned away from every household except that of a poor elderly couple named Baucis and Philemon, who provided a room and a feast despite their own poverty. The Romans had a word that described someone or something unknown (like the gods in the tale): incognitus, a term that is the ancestor of our modern incognito. Cognitus is the past participle of the Latin verb cognoscere, which means "to know" and which also gives us recognize, among other words.

Examples of incognito in a Sentence

Adverb or adjective an incognito source in the CIA was the source of the information
Recent Examples on the Web
Adverb or adjective
So, without a Brazil jersey, my sister-in-law was incognito, until the game stared. Ann Killion,, 2 July 2018 Around her chest, a Gucci fanny pack gave her look that subtle edge, while her trucker hat—from the Dogfish Head brewery!—and large sunglasses made the case for going incognito. Vogue, 16 Apr. 2019 Meanwhile, Rufus and Wyatt go incognito at a nearby plantation to find the sleeper and destroy the Confederate version of Gray’s Sports Almanac. Rachel Kaufman, Smithsonian, 13 May 2018 The entire visa appointment apparently only took ten minutes, and Markle seemingly tried to go incognito by wearing sunglasses and a White Sox cap the entire time. Lisa Ryan, The Cut, 12 Apr. 2018 So bad was secession fervor by then that Lincoln traveled incognito, Crofts writes, lest assassins kill him on the way. Avi Selk, Washington Post, 31 Oct. 2017 But after months of remaining relatively incognito, as his supporters continue to push for the arrest of the other men involved in his attack, Harris became one of the men charged with a crime. Trymaine Lee, NBC News, 10 Oct. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'incognito.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adverb or adjective

Italian, from Latin incognitus unknown, from in- + cognitus, past participle of cognoscere to know — more at cognition

First Known Use

Adverb Or Adjective

1635, in the meaning defined above


1638, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of incognito was in 1635

Dictionary Entries Near incognito

Cite this Entry

“Incognito.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


adverb or adjective
: with one's identity concealed (as by a false name or title)
was traveling incognito

Adverb or adjective

from Italian incognito "so as not to be known or recognized," from Latin incognitus "unknown," from in- "not" and cognitus, past participle of cognoscere "to know" — related to connoisseur, recognize

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