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[rek-uh g-nahyz] /ˈrɛk əgˌnaɪz/
verb (used with object), recognized, recognizing.
to identify as something or someone previously seen, known, etc.:
He had changed so much that one could scarcely recognize him.
to identify from knowledge of appearance or characteristics:
I recognized him from the description. They recognized him as a fraud.
to perceive as existing or true; realize:
to be the first to recognize a fact.
to acknowledge as the person entitled to speak at a particular time:
The Speaker recognized the congressman from Maine.
to acknowledge formally as entitled to treatment as a political unit:
The United States promptly recognized Israel.
to acknowledge or accept formally a specified factual or legal situation:
to recognize a successful revolutionary regime as the de facto government of the country.
to acknowledge or treat as valid:
to recognize a claim.
to acknowledge acquaintance with, as by a greeting, handshake, etc.
to show appreciation of (achievement, service, merit, etc.), as by some reward, public honor, or the like.
Law. to acknowledge (an illegitimate child) as one's own.
Biochemistry, Immunology. to bind with, cleave, or otherwise react to (another substance) as a result of fitting its molecular shape or a portion of its shape.
Also, especially British, recognise.
Origin of recognize
late Middle English
1425-75; recogn(ition) + -ize; replacing late Middle English racunnysen, recognisen < Old French reconuiss-, stem of reconuistre < Latin recognōscere, equivalent to re- re- + cognōscere to know1; see cognition
Related forms
[rek-uh g-nahy-zuh-buh l, rek-uh g-nahy-] /ˈrɛk əgˌnaɪ zə bəl, ˌrɛk əgˈnaɪ-/ (Show IPA),
recognizability, noun
recognizably, adverb
recognizer, noun
nonrecognized, adjective
prerecognize, verb (used with object), prerecognized, prerecognizing.
quasi-recognized, adjective
unrecognizable, adjective
unrecognizably, adverb
unrecognized, adjective
unrecognizing, adjective
well-recognized, adjective
3. acknowledge, appreciate, understand, grant, concede. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for recognise
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But he seemed to recognise you,I saidHave you met him before?

    The Sorrows of Satan Marie Corelli
  • If any love is shown us we should recognise that we are quite unworthy of it.

    De Profundis Oscar Wilde
  • This was the side of war which men needed most to recognise.

    The Glory of the Trenches Coningsby Dawson
  • When the young man was pointed out to him, he did not recognise him at all.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • If they recognise me, I thought, perhaps they'll pitch me into the fire also.

  • Every Speyside man will recognise from this exordium that I am about to treat of "Geordie."

British Dictionary definitions for recognise


verb (transitive)
to perceive (a person, creature, or thing) to be the same as or belong to the same class as something previously seen or known; know again
to accept or be aware of (a fact, duty, problem, etc): to recognize necessity
to give formal acknowledgment of the status or legality of (a government, an accredited representative, etc)
(mainly US & Canadian) to grant (a person) the right to speak in a deliberative body, debate, etc
to give a token of thanks for (a service rendered, etc)
to make formal acknowledgment of (a claim, etc)
to show approval or appreciation of (something good or pleasing)
to acknowledge or greet (a person), as when meeting by chance
(intransitive) (mainly US) to enter into a recognizance
Derived Forms
recognizable, recognisable, adjective
recognizability, recognisability, noun
recognizably, recognisably, adverb
recognizer, recogniser, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin recognoscere to know again, from re- + cognoscere to know, ascertain
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for recognise

chiefly British English spelling of recognize; for spelling, see -ize. Related: Recognised; recognising; recognisance.



early 15c., "resume possession of land," back-formation from recognizance, or else from Old French reconoiss-, stem of reconoistre "to know again, identify, recognize," from Latin recognoscere "acknowledge, recall to mind, know again; examine; certify," from re- "again" (see re-) + cognoscere "know" (see cognizance). Meaning "know again, recall or recover the knowledge of, perceive an identity with something formerly known or felt" first recorded 1530s. Related: Recognized; recognizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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