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

But Epic seems to recognize that Fortnite has a larger, more grand road ahead of it that involves crafting large, communal narratives and shared social experiences. Nick Statt, The Verge, "The future of Fortnite may look a lot like Playground mode," 11 July 2018 Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, at a recent event in London to promote her latest book, seemed to recognize the need to address that political impulse. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, "US-Europe ties and the audacity of July 1948," 9 July 2018 People have to recognize the type of monster Lincoln is. Nick Schwartz, For The Win, "Bachelorette Power Rankings: Becca finally realizes that Chris is the worst," 3 July 2018 However, when searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, shouldn’t researchers be willing and able to recognize the artificial version of life as well? Hanneke Weitering, Scientific American, "How Theoretical Physicists Can Help Find Aliens," 28 June 2018 Officer Brent Riddle of the Howard County Police was recognized with a commemorative plaque as Police Officer of the Year for 2017. Tracy Trobridge, Howard County Times, "Glenwood Lions Club recognizes police and fire heroes [Glenwood/Glenelg/Dayton]," 12 July 2018 Black women are recognized in just about every category for women., "Issa Rae Finally Got An Emmy Nod & I Can't Stop Crying," 12 July 2018 For his part, Daniels was also recognized for his supporting turn in Netflix limited entry Godless. Michael O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: How Netflix Edged HBO and What It Means for This Year's Race," 12 July 2018 After coming out — he is widely recognized as the first Foreign Service officer to do so publicly — Mr. Gallagher left the service in 1976. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, "Tom Gallagher, Diplomat Who Became a Gay Activist, Dies at 77," 12 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

12 Oct 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).


not any or not one

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