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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web And while a majority of farmers purchase seed there based on costs, others recognize the concerns around chemicals. Karin Winegar, Star Tribune, "Minnesota is poised to lead an environmental breakthrough," 6 Apr. 2021 Runners will know Hoka One One for its comfortable, thick-soled exercise shoes; Traveler regulars may recognize Cotopaxi as the maker of one-of-a-kind, multicolored hiking backpacks. Madison Flager, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Luggage, Outdoor Gear, and Clothing Collabs We're Excited About Right Now," 5 Apr. 2021 Fans of The Crown will recognize the building as the setting for one of the happiest scenes in season four, when Diana announces her engagement to her friends. Olivia Hosken, Town & Country, "Princess Diana's Apartment Will Receive an English Heritage Blue Plaque," 3 Apr. 2021 The Daytime Emmys recognize outstanding achievement in daytime TV programming. Lynette Rice,, "CBS will air the Daytime Emmys through 2023," 1 Apr. 2021 According to Tommasso Di Tanno, a former chair of MPS’ Board of Auditors who now teaches tax law at Milan’s Bocconi University, the bank’s staff and the residents of Siena recognize that their beloved bank needs saving. Eric J. Lyman, Fortune, "An Italian bank older than America itself is suddenly a hot commodity among American investors," 30 Mar. 2021 Longtime monster hunters will also recognize the crunchiness of the user interface audio, and the large bold colors for status effects. Washington Post, "‘Monster Hunter Rise’ is a grand Japanese homecoming, made by a more confident team," 30 Mar. 2021 Human resource specialists recognize transitioning as a critical life event, offering training to managers and giving support not only to transitioning employees but to staffers with transgender dependents or spouses. Charisse Jones, USA TODAY, "These transgender people shifted genders during COVID and are bracing for a return to the office," 30 Mar. 2021 As competing proposals to shape the future of the police department vie for public attention, activists and organizers recognize that the trial’s verdict could have profound effect on their ability to recruit and retain supporters. Martin Kuz, The Christian Science Monitor, "Chauvin trial: Why Minneapolis activists are looking beyond the verdict," 30 Mar. 2021

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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Recognize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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 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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