rec·​og·​nize | \ˈre-kig-ˌnīz, -kəg-\
recognized; recognizing

Definition of recognize 

transitive verb

1 : to acknowledge formally: such as

a : to admit as being lord or sovereign

b : to admit as being of a particular status

c : to admit as being one entitled to be heard : give the floor to

d : to acknowledge the de facto existence or the independence of

2 : to acknowledge or take notice of in some definite way: such as

a : to acknowledge with a show of appreciation recognize an act of bravery with the award of a medal

b : to acknowledge acquaintance with recognize a neighbor with a nod

3a : to perceive to be something or someone previously known recognized the word

b : to perceive clearly : realize

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Other Words from recognize

recognizability \ ˌre-​kig-​ˌnī-​zə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē , -​kəg-​ \ noun
recognizable \ ˈre-​kəg-​ˌnī-​zə-​bəl , -​kig-​ \ adjective
recognizably \ ˈre-​kəg-​ˌnī-​zə-​blē , -​kig-​ \ adverb
recognizer noun

Examples of recognize in a Sentence

I didn't recognize you at first with your new haircut. I can always recognize him from far away by the way he walks. They recognized the odor at once. The U.S. government has now recognized the newly formed country. They refused to recognize the treaty.
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Recent Examples on the Web

True Patriots Care is dedicated to recognizing and supporting those who have served their communities as first responders and as members of the armed services. Erin Sauder, Elgin Courier-News, "Purple Heart recipients invited to picnic being organized by True Patriots Care," 13 July 2018 The pair does, however, recognize the shift in the best comedy category, where they are also joined by female-led shows Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Tina Fey's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, "'GLOW' Team on Emmy Noms: Female-Led Shows Are "Not a Trend"," 12 July 2018 Studies have shown that adults take a few moments longer to recognize the number zero compared to other numerals. Brian Resnick, Vox, "The mind-bendy weirdness of the number zero, explained," 5 July 2018 Marketing unapproved products, with uncertain dosages and formulations can keep patients from accessing appropriate, recognized therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases. Andrew Joseph, STAT, "Archived chat: STAT on Marijuana-based medicine and drug development," 28 June 2018 Working with a friend who shared her love for fried dough, Cholak went to board meetings in doughnut garb and fought hard for the university to recognize the club. Elena Weissmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Meet Rachael Cholak, the girl with the doughnut tattoos," 25 June 2018 Marketing unapproved products, with uncertain dosages and formulations, can keep patients from accessing appropriate, recognized therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Marijuana drug wins FDA approval—a first that may change federal regulations," 25 June 2018 The World Food Prize was created by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug in 1986 to recognize scientists and others who have improved the quality and availability of food. David Pitt, Fox News, "World Food Prize goes to an economist and a doctor," 25 June 2018 In addition to the Super Lawyer accolade, Martin also received a Silver Client Champion Award from the Martindale-Hubbell rating service, which recognizes attorneys for their commitment to the best in client service. Staff Reports, Houston Chronicle, "Business Briefs for the Week of July 13-20," 13 July 2018

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

1537, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for recognize

modification of Anglo-French reconois-, stem of reconoistre, from Latin recognoscere, from re- + cognoscere to know — more at cognition

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Statistics for recognize

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for recognize

The first known use of recognize was in 1537

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More Definitions for recognize



English Language Learners Definition of recognize

: to know and remember (someone or something) because of previous knowledge or experience

: to accept or be aware that (something) is true or exists

: to accept and approve of (something) as having legal or official authority


rec·​og·​nize | \ˈre-kig-ˌnīz \
recognized; recognizing

Kids Definition of recognize

1 : to know and remember upon seeing I recognized an old friend.

2 : to be willing to accept I recognized my own faults.

3 : to take approving notice of They recognized his bravery with a medal.


transitive verb
recognized; recognizing

Legal Definition of recognize 

1 : to acknowledge formally: as

a : to admit as being of a particular status recognize a precedent recognize a union specifically : to acknowledge (as a right, cause of action, or defense) as valid

b : to admit as being one entitled to be heard : give the floor to

c : to acknowledge the de facto existence or the independence of refused to recognize the new government

2 : to account for as real, received, or incurred and treat and record appropriately specifically : to account for (a gain, loss, expense, or income) on current accounting or tax records recognized the gain when she included it as income on her tax return — compare realize

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Comments on recognize

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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