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 Northern Michigan lake shore recognized by National Geographic as one of the 21 best beaches on Earth. Bisma Parvez, Detroit Free Press, "Sleeping Bear Dunes at 50: Year-long celebration set, despite narrower beaches," 11 Feb. 2020 Who has the kind of self that is recognized by the law and the public as worthy of self-defense? Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Judith Butler Wants Us to Reshape Our Rage," 9 Feb. 2020 Backart’s work has been recognized by Communication Arts, Graphis, Print, How, National ADDYs and dozens of other publications., "Sponsored content: Honoring American AgCredit Sweepstake winners," 7 Feb. 2020 And there was a more coded message directed at supporters of Bernie Sanders, a socialist who is one of the Democratic presidential primary front-runners, as Trump welcomed Juan Guaido, recognized by the U.S. as the president of Venezuela. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Impeachment courses silently through Trump State of the Union appearance," 4 Feb. 2020 With his support down at home, Guaidó – who is recognized by the U.S. as Venezuela’s rightful president -- has launched the second year of his so-far unsuccessful campaign to remove the current sitting president, Nicolás Maduro. Greg Norman | Fox News, Fox News, "Venezuela’s Guaido hoping to score meeting with Trump in Florida this weekend," 1 Feb. 2020 The site has been recognized by the Texas Historical Commission Monarch Ranch includes a 6,000-foot runway with hangar and fuel tanks. Steve Brown, Dallas News, "West Texas ranch on the market comes with everything from bat caves to frontier fort," 30 Jan. 2020 Most nations on the list are perennials, instantly recognized by those who follow the issue. Doug Bandow, National Review, "A New Ranking of Nations Where Christians Are Persecuted Most," 28 Jan. 2020 Moses was recently recognized by the NFL for having one of the top player engagement programs in the league. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans fire director of player engagement J.J. Moses, other staffers," 28 Jan. 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

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Recognize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 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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