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

Sometimes consumers don’t recognize that their gifts are connected to the internet. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Mozilla releases privacy report on which holiday gadgets are too creepy," 14 Nov. 2018 Back in early 2017, Janet Cervantes-Hageman, 55, didn't recognize herself. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, ""I Set Out to Improve My Blood Pressure and Lost 111 Pounds'," 3 Oct. 2018 Last year, 125 companies were recognized as Top Workplaces in the Baltimore region, encompassing the city and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties., "Deadline extended for nominations for the Top Workplaces in the Baltimore region," 14 July 2018 Junior Austin Nehls and sophomore Tyson Batiste of the Central Connecticut men's basketball team were recognized on the 2017-18 National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court, it was announced Friday., "Regional Digest: Altman Anderson First E-Club Hall Inductee," 13 July 2018 These endeavors were recognized, published, broadcast, and telecast nationally., "Deaths in South Florida: 7/13," 13 July 2018 Nauru is one of six states in the region to recognize Taiwan instead of Beijing. Rachel Pannett, WSJ, "U.S.-China Divisions Exposed After One Phrase ‘Torpedoed’ Pacific Accord," 18 Nov. 2018 But this year, the National Book Foundation has expanded its scope and added a brand new category to recognize literature in translation, for a total of 25 finalists. Constance Grady, Vox, "We read all 25 National Book Award finalists for 2018. Here’s what we thought.," 15 Nov. 2018 The segment ended on a positive note, with Crenshaw taking a moment to recognize the memory of Pete’s father, a firefighter who died during the 9/11 attacks. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Lieutenant Commander Dan Crenshaw Joins Pete Davidson on "Saturday Night Live"," 11 Nov. 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

7 Dec 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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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