re·​cog·​ni·​zance | \ri-ˈkäg-nə-zən(t)s, -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

Tennis was released on a $1,092 personal recognizance bond. Stephen Sorace, Fox News, "Day care owner allegedly spanked boy, 4, with a paddle nicknamed 'Bob'," 7 June 2018 On Tuesday, a judge issued her a $1,902 personal recognizance bond. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "South Carolina Day Care Owner Accused of Striking a 4-Year-Old With a Paddle Nicknamed ‘Bob’," 6 June 2018 Burke was released on personal recognizance bond and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he’s sentenced this fall. Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, "Ex-VP at software company GlobalSCAPE pleads guilty to wire fraud," 31 May 2018 MLive reports that District Judge Joseph Filip arraigned him the same day and gave him a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. Tim Whelan Jr., Detroit Free Press, "Report: Boys hoops coach accused of stealing thousands from parents," 18 Apr. 2018 Rohana was freed on a $15,000 personal recognizance bond on Feb. 13. Meagan Flynn, Washington Post, "Man stole an ancient terra-cotta warrior’s thumb in Philadelphia, FBI says," 20 Feb. 2018 She was arrested and released on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond. Michele Corriston,, "Naya Rivera's Altercation with Ryan Dorsey: Police Release Photos of His Injuries, New Details," 19 Jan. 2018 Stark denied a continuance, converted Chaney's bail to a $250,000 personal recognizance bond, with house arrest and GPS monitoring, and set the new trial date for Oct. 16. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee mother gives powerful statement of pain and redemption at sentencing of son's killer," 12 Jan. 2018 Lyon remains free on his own recognizance pending the May sentencing date. Darrell Smith, sacbee, "Mike Lyon is guilty of video voyeurism — again | The Sacramento Bee," 24 Apr. 2018

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

Share recognizance

Statistics for recognizance

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for recognizance

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for recognizance



English Language Learners Definition of recognizance

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 \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on recognizance

Nglish: Translation of recognizance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of recognizance for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about recognizance

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).


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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