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

Other Words from recognize

recognizability \ ˌre-​kig-​ˌnī-​zə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce recognize (audio) , -​kəg-​ \ noun
recognizable \ ˈre-​kəg-​ˌnī-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce recognize (audio) , -​kig-​ \ adjective
recognizably \ ˈre-​kəg-​ˌnī-​zə-​blē How to pronounce recognize (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.
Recent Examples on the Web However, Ripa didn't immediately recognize her husband, and walked past him on her way out. Robin Raven,, 6 May 2022 Unfortunately, most industry leaders don't recognize the importance of guarding their name, image and likeness until their brand's reputation is threatened. Shaan Rais, Forbes, 6 May 2022 The boy's family didn’t recognize the man, who was captured on a security camera carrying what authorities described as a baby carrier with a white blanket over it. Tim Stelloh, NBC News, 26 Apr. 2022 Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC and is not required to hand over suspects who are indicted. Bynadine El-bawab, ABC News, 18 Apr. 2022 As currently written, the ACA does not recognize these additional costs for family members or dependents when calculating affordability and eligibility for ACA coverage and subsidies. Kat Brancato,, 18 Apr. 2022 In the fall of 1970, the Road Runners Club of America held its first women’s marathon (the AAU did not recognize it). Lori Riley, Hartford Courant, 16 Apr. 2022 Mail services: The United States Postal Service does not recognize Easter or Good Friday as USPS holidays. Wyatte Grantham-philips, USA TODAY, 13 Apr. 2022 Serbia, Russia and China don’t recognize Kosovo’s statehood, while the United States and most Western countries do. Dusan Stojanovic, ajc, 10 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of recognize was in 1537

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Recognize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for recognize


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

More from Merriam-Webster on recognize

Nglish: Translation of recognize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of recognize for Arabic Speakers


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