re·​cog·​ni·​zance | \ ri-ˈkäg-nə-zən(t)s How to pronounce recognizance (audio) , -ˈkä-nə- \

Definition of recognizance

1a : an obligation of record entered into before a court or magistrate requiring the performance of an act (such as appearance in court) usually under penalty of a money forfeiture released on his own recognizance
b : the sum liable to forfeiture upon such an obligation
2 archaic : token, pledge

Examples of recognizance in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The petition requests that Coulibaly be released, either on his own recognizance or under an alternative detention program. Katy Reckdahl,, "This Louisiana teacher of 19 years is locked up now and facing deportation," 3 Jan. 2021 Prosecutor James Conger on Monday said the district attorney’s office would support Samayoa remaining out of custody on his own recognizance, but asked that he be banned from possessing a firearm. Megan Cassidy,, "Ex-SFPD cop pleads not guilty to manslaughter in fatal shooting case," 28 Dec. 2020 Christian remains in jail without bond but Vile was released on his own recognizance for violating the terms of his previous house arrest, records show. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Four arrested, guns and drugs seized in probation sweep in Broward County," 19 Dec. 2020 Harnen said local judges are working with the sheriff’s office to reduce the inmate population by lowering bail or releasing some inmates on their own recognizance. Ashley Remkus |, al, "Alabama inmates sleep on floors as jails overcrowded: ‘It’s inhumane.’," 19 Dec. 2020 All but Espinosa-Villegas were released on their own recognizance. Joseph Flaherty, Arkansas Online, "Suspects face federal counts in vandalism," 18 Dec. 2020 Pirkey, 26, was in jail less than 11 hours, released on his own recognizance at 1:08 p.m. later that day. oregonlive, "Stalker terrifies Portland neighborhoods," 6 Dec. 2020 After leaving the hospital, Gallenson said, he was released on his own recognizance and has returned to working at YouTube. Matthias Gafni,, "YouTube engineer pleads no contest in LSD-fueled rampage in Bodega Bay, returns to work after surviving police shooting," 3 Dec. 2020 She was released after posting her driver’s license and signing a $1,000 personal recognizance bond with a court date of Nov. 13 in Waukegan, police said. Pioneer Press Staff,, "Libertyville police: Two arrested for DUI in past week," 2 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'recognizance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of recognizance

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for recognizance

Middle English recognissance, alteration of reconissaunce, from Anglo-French, from reconoistre to recognize

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about recognizance

Time Traveler for recognizance

Time Traveler

The first known use of recognizance was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for recognizance

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Recognizance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for recognizance


How to pronounce recognizance (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of recognizance

US, law : a legal promise made by someone before a court of law that must be kept to avoid being punished


re·​cog·​ni·​zance | \ ri-ˈkäg-nə-zəns How to pronounce recognizance (audio) \

Legal Definition of recognizance

1 : an obligation entered into on the record before a court or magistrate requiring the performance of an act (as the paying of a debt) usually under penalty of a money forfeiture also : the sum liable to forfeiture
2 : a simple personal obligation or undertaking (as to appear in court) entered into before a magistrate and having no money penalty attached released on his own recognizance

History and Etymology for recognizance

Anglo-French recognisance reconisance, literally, recognition, from Old French reconoisance, from reconoistre to recognize, from Latin recognoscere

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on recognizance

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!