or cog·ni·sance

[kog-nuh-zuhns, kon-uh-]
  1. awareness, realization, or knowledge; notice; perception: The guests took cognizance of the snide remark.
  2. Law.
    1. judicial notice as taken by a court in dealing with a cause.
    2. the right of taking jurisdiction, as possessed by a court.
    3. acknowledgment; admission, as a plea admitting the fact alleged in the declaration.
  3. the range or scope of knowledge, observation, etc.: Such understanding is beyond his cognizance.
  4. Heraldry. a device by which a person or a person's servants or property can be recognized; badge.

Origin of cognizance

1250–1300; Middle English conisa(u)nce < Middle French con(o)is(s)ance, equivalent to conois(tre) to know (< Latin cognōscere; see cognition) + -ance -ance; forms with -g- (< Latin) from the 16th century
Related formsnon·cog·ni·zance, nounself-cog·ni·zance, noun

Synonyms for cognizance Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cognisance

Historical Examples of cognisance

  • His Majesty had cognisance of it, and forbade the publication of the names.

    The Memoirs of Madame de Montespan, Complete

    Madame La Marquise De Montespan

  • I am here with her cognisance; indeed, by this time she thinks 'tis all over.


    Benjamin Disraeli

  • His mind had fastened upon a hundred things of which she had taken no cognisance.

    The Day of Judgment

    Joseph Hocking

  • Then came the thought of Mr. Thornton's cognisance of her falsehood.

    North and South

    Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

  • The Navy, however, takes no cognisance of zeal, if misplaced.

British Dictionary definitions for cognisance



  1. knowledge; acknowledgment
  2. take cognizance of to take notice of; acknowledge, esp officially
  3. the range or scope of knowledge or perception
  4. law
    1. the right of a court to hear and determine a cause or matter
    2. knowledge of certain facts upon which the court must act without requiring proof
    3. mainly USconfession
  5. heraldry a distinguishing badge or bearing

Word Origin for cognizance

C14: from Old French conoissance, from conoistre to know, from Latin cognōscere to learn; see cognition
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

Word Origin and History for cognisance

alternative spelling of cognizance (q.v.); also see -ize.



mid-14c., from Anglo-French conysance "recognition," later, "knowledge," from Old French conoissance "acquaintance, recognition; knowledge, wisdom" (Modern French connaissance), from past participle of conoistre "to know," from Latin cognoscere "to get to know, recognize," from com- "together" (see co-) + gnoscere "to know" (see notice (n.)). The -g- was restored in English spelling 15c. and has gradually affected the pronunciation, which was always "con-." The old pronunciation lingered longest in legal use.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper