verb (used with object), rec·og·nized, rec·og·niz·ing.

  1. to identify as something or someone previously seen, known, etc.: He had changed so much that one could scarcely recognize him.
  2. to identify from knowledge of appearance or characteristics: I recognized him from the description. They recognized him as a fraud.
  3. to perceive as existing or true; realize: to be the first to recognize a fact.
  4. to acknowledge as the person entitled to speak at a particular time: The Speaker recognized the congressman from Maine.
  5. to acknowledge formally as entitled to treatment as a political unit: The United States promptly recognized Israel.
  6. 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.
  7. to acknowledge or treat as valid: to recognize a claim.
  8. to acknowledge acquaintance with, as by a greeting, handshake, etc.
  9. to show appreciation of (achievement, service, merit, etc.), as by some reward, public honor, or the like.
  10. Law. to acknowledge (an illegitimate child) as one’s own.
  11. 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.


  1. not able to be recognized or identifiedtiny unrecognizable fragments

verb (tr)

  1. 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
  2. to accept or be aware of (a fact, duty, problem, etc)to recognize necessity
  3. to give formal acknowledgment of the status or legality of (a government, an accredited representative, etc)
  4. mainly US and Canadian to grant (a person) the right to speak in a deliberative body, debate, etc
  5. to give a token of thanks for (a service rendered, etc)
  6. to make formal acknowledgment of (a claim, etc)
  7. to show approval or appreciation of (something good or pleasing)
  8. to acknowledge or greet (a person), as when meeting by chance
  9. (intr) mainly US to enter into a recognizance

adj.1817, from un- (1) “not” + recognize + -able. Related: Unrecognizably. v.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.

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