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[ri-kog-nuh-zuh ns, -kon-uh-] /rɪˈkɒg nə zəns, -ˈkɒn ə-/
  1. a bond or obligation of record entered into before a court of record or a magistrate, binding a person to do a particular act.
  2. the sum pledged as surety on such a bond.
Archaic. recognition.
Archaic. a token; badge.
Origin of recognizance
1350-1400; Middle English reconissaunce, recognisance < Old French reconuissance. See recognize, -ance Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for recognizance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All actions for debt upon any recognizance, shall be commenced within twenty years after the cause of action arose.

  • "A writ of recognizance," the fat man said, handing his paper to the captain.

    The Status Civilization Robert Sheckley
  • If a negro received liberty by will, recognizance should be entered into by the executor immediately.

    Slavery in Pennsylvania Edward Raymond Turner
  • Amos Jolliff discharged from his recognizance to attend as a witness.

    The Old Pike Thomas B. Searight
  • It was a reprehensible affair, but he was released upon his own recognizance.

British Dictionary definitions for recognizance


  1. a bond entered into before a court or magistrate by which a person binds himself to do a specified act, as to appear in court on a stated day, keep the peace, or pay a debt
  2. a monetary sum pledged to the performance of such an act
an obsolete word for recognition
Derived Forms
recognizant, recognisant, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French reconoissance, from reconoistre to recognize
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 recognizance

early 14c., reconisaunce, "a bond acknowledging some obligation binding one over to do some particular act," from Old French reconissance "acknowledgment, recognition" (12c., Modern French reconnaissance), from reconoiss-, present participle stem of reconoistre (see recognize). Related: Recognizant.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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