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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.