cog·​ni·​tive | \ ˈkäg-nə-tiv How to pronounce cognitive (audio) \

Definition of cognitive

1 : of, relating to, being, or involving conscious intellectual activity (such as thinking, reasoning, or remembering) cognitive impairment
2 : based on or capable of being reduced to empirical factual knowledge

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Other Words from cognitive

cognitively adverb

How Should You Use cognitive?

Cognitive skills and knowledge involve the ability to acquire factual information, often the kind of knowledge that can easily be tested. So cognition should be distinguished from social, emotional, and creative development and ability. Cognitive science is a growing field of study that deals with human perception, thinking, and learning.

Examples of cognitive in a Sentence

Homo sapiens' survival is founded in their filling an evolutionary niche referred to as the cognitive niche. — Daniel Grassam, Skeptical Inquirer, July/August 2001 Researchers are debating whether heading balls can dent the cognitive skills of young soccer players for life. — Lisa McLaughlin, Time, 5 June 2000 Further into the forebrain, motor functions trail off and cognitive functions, involving planning and thinking about the future, begin. — Sandra Blakeslee, New York Times, 8 Nov. 1994
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Recent Examples on the Web But cognitive decline -- such as consistently struggling to remember monthly bills or stay focused in conversations -- is not a natural part of getting older, according to the National Institute on Aging. Dana Santas, CNN, 8 Sep. 2021 Larry Cross created a therapeutic setting in his backyard in Southeast Portland to help his husband be safe and comforted while experiencing cognitive decline. oregonlive, 8 Sep. 2021 The treatment reduced cognitive decline from baseline by 43.6 percent compared to placebo in people with mild-to-moderate disease, AC Immune said Tuesday., 31 Aug. 2021 Her reading of the events is that Tom started a cognitive decline three years after his car accident and the misappropriation of money started then. Brian Moylan, Vulture, 18 Aug. 2021 Signs of cognitive decline typically don't appear overnight. Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic, 9 Aug. 2021 Instead, the company re-analyzed the data and found that participants receiving the highest dose of the drug in one trial experienced a very modest slowing of cognitive decline, but participants in the other trial did not benefit at all. Ed Silverman, STAT, 7 Aug. 2021 Scientists don’t completely understand why, but many hypothesize that vaccines generate a systemic immune response that can reduce inflammation in the brain, which results in neuron loss and cognitive decline. Allysia Finley, WSJ, 5 Aug. 2021 More evidence implicating microglia as drivers of the neuron loss that leads to cognitive decline later in the disease process came from two 2019 studies. Jason Ulrich, Scientific American, 1 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cognitive.' 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 cognitive

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cognitive

borrowed from Medieval Latin cognitīvus "concerned with knowing," from Latin cognitus, past participle of cognōscere "to get to know, acquire knowledge of" + -īvus -ive — more at cognition

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Time Traveler for cognitive

Time Traveler

The first known use of cognitive was in 1586

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Dictionary Entries Near cognitive



cognitive behavioral therapy

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Statistics for cognitive

Last Updated

20 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cognitive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for cognitive



English Language Learners Definition of cognitive

: of, relating to, or involving conscious mental activities (such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering)


cog·​ni·​tive | \ ˈkäg-nət-iv How to pronounce cognitive (audio) \

Medical Definition of cognitive

: of, relating to, or being conscious intellectual activity (as thinking, reasoning, remembering, imagining, or learning words) the cognitive elements of perception— C. H. Hamburg

Other Words from cognitive

cognitively adverb


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