rec·og·nize | \ ˈre-kig-ˌnīz , -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, -kəg- \ noun
recognizable \ˈre-kəg-ˌnī-zə-bəl, -kig- \ adjective
recognizably \ˈre-kəg-ˌnī-zə-blē, -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

That’s where Edwards first played organized tackle football and met Dan Albert, one of the only names an average fan would not recognize on a printed list of 14 coaching influences that Edwards always keeps handy. Jeff Metcalfe, azcentral, "For ASU's Herm Edwards, sports bubble helped to overcome racism growing up," 12 July 2018 Winkfield refused to accept the California doctors’ conclusion and took her daughter to New Jersey, a state that accommodates religions that don’t recognize brain death. NBC News, "'They are not God': Mother of girl declared dead twice criticizes doctors," 9 July 2018 The local 2017 Gurnee Police Department DUI Enforcement Award recognized two officers who made a minimum of 20 DUI arrests in the calendar year and another four officers for career totals as high as 300 arrests. Frank Abderholden, Lake County News-Sun, "'You do not want to drive drunk in Gurnee': Village recognized for 40 percent bump in DUI arrests," 6 July 2018 The subversion of America’s immigration laws is a phenomenon that Americans of all races can recognize as a legitimate policy problem. Eric Leivtz, Daily Intelligencer, "For Democrats, Immigration Is a Political Problem Without a Policy Solution," 2 July 2018 Using network theory, theoretical physicists can broaden the criteria for the search for life so that any kind of organized and seemingly unnatural system would be recognized as a form of life, Walker said. Hanneke Weitering, Scientific American, "How Theoretical Physicists Can Help Find Aliens," 28 June 2018 That should be recognized as an example for future generations, not dismissed — Drew Johnson (@DJ__Ohnson) June 26, 2018 .@NFL granted Chad Johnson’s request to change his jersey to ochocinco, but couldn’t grant M.D. on Dr. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "NFL criticized for denying request of Chiefs' Duvernay-Tardif to add M.D. to jersey," 26 June 2018 Miami coach Jim Larranaga was quick to recognize Walker as a different breed of teenager. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Spurs’ new draft pick not just all talk," 23 June 2018 Investors at times recognized twice the value in Exxon’s assets compared with rivals BP PLC, Total SA, Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC. Bradley Olson, WSJ, "Exxon, Once a ‘Perfect Machine,’ Is Running Dry," 13 July 2018

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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Statistics for recognize

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for recognize

The first known use of recognize was in 1537

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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 \
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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Comments on recognize

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


the setting in which something occurs

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