• synonyms


or cog·ni·sance

[kog-nuh-zuhns, kon-uh-]
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  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.
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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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for cognizance

Historical Examples

  • Yet of this interval the utilitarian theory takes no cognizance.



  • A searching by, or cognizance of, a magistrate, or other authorized officer.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • The Chinese who have gone have been with Chinese cognizance, but not under Chinese protection.

    Peking Dust

    Ellen N. La Motte

  • There was no cognizance of anything except this one maddening girl.

    The Indian On The Trail

    Mary Hartwell Catherwood

  • The wiser they are in intelligence the less perception of cognizance they have.

British Dictionary definitions for cognizance



  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
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Word Origin

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 cognizance


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper