rec·​og·​nize | \ ˈre-kig-ˌnīz How to pronounce recognize (audio) , -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 How to pronounce recognizability (audio) , -​kəg-​ \ noun
recognizable \ ˈre-​kəg-​ˌnī-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce recognizable (audio) , -​kig-​ \ adjective
recognizably \ ˈre-​kəg-​ˌnī-​zə-​blē How to pronounce recognizably (audio) , -​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 fantasy managers need to have a short memory and recognize that Agholor scored his fourth touchdown of the season against the Buccaneers and had his first 100-yard game. Phil Thompson,, "Fantasy football waiver wire for Week 8: If Christian Kirk or Corey Davis aren’t available, grab Brandon Aiyuk," 26 Oct. 2020 The Portal's standout feature is its ability to recognize humans in the shot and move the camera around to keep faces clearly visible. Adrienne So, Wired, "I Didn’t Want to Love Zooming on My Facebook Portal—but I Do," 25 Oct. 2020 To recognize and celebrate the diversity of Indigenous voices running in this election, Vogue asked now veteran Haaland to converse with newcomer Zunker in an exclusive new conversation. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "A Record Number of Indigenous Women Are Running for Office This Year. Here’s What an Incumbent Has to Say to a Challenger.," 24 Oct. 2020 Around the world, there are efforts to go beyond the broomstick-riding cliché and realistically recognize this dark history. Joseph Prezioso, National Geographic, "Witch hunt tourism is lucrative. It also obscures a tragic history," 23 Oct. 2020 The agency also is training firefighters to recognize the signs of stress and trauma and combat them with techniques such as deep breathing, Ming said. Sophia Quinton, USA TODAY, "'People are burned out': Brutal fire season is taking a toll on firefighters' mental health," 23 Oct. 2020 Such was the intensity of the surveillance, the couple’s young son—also named James Bond—could recognize the cars that were regularly ordered to tail them, recalls Mrs. Bond. Drew Hinshaw, WSJ, "Declassified Files Reveal a Possible Spy in Poland—Named James Bond," 22 Oct. 2020 Sinovac’s vaccine relies on an inactive version of the novel coronavirus to teach human immune systems to recognize and destroy the real thing. Fortune, "Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro undercuts the Chinese COVID vaccine his country is betting on," 22 Oct. 2020 Detectives are hoping someone will recognize and her and call them. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Man was robbed of $9,000 by woman he met in casino, cops say," 21 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for recognize

Time Traveler

The first known use of recognize was in 1537

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Statistics for recognize

Last Updated

29 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Recognize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for recognize


How to pronounce recognize (audio)

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 How to pronounce recognize (audio) \
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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