or cog·ni·sance

[ kog-nuh-zuhns, kon-uh- ]
/ ˈkɒg nə zəns, ˈkɒn ə- /
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See synonyms for: cognizance / cognizances on Thesaurus.com

awareness, realization, or knowledge; notice; perception: The guests took cognizance of the snide remark.
  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.
the range or scope of knowledge, observation, etc.: Such understanding is beyond his cognizance.
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


non·cog·ni·zance, nounself-cog·ni·zance, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does cognizance mean?

Cognizance is awareness or knowledge of something.

The word cognizance is typically used in a formal way. The word awareness means the same thing but is used more broadly.

The adjective form of cognizance is cognizant. To be cognizant of something is to be aware of it or have knowledge of it. Cognizant is almost always followed by the word of and the thing that the person is cognizant of, as in He was cognizant of the report at the time. It’s often used in the phrase cognizant of the fact, as in I’m cognizant of the fact that you dislike me, but we still need to work together to get this done.

Cognizance is used in a more specific way in a legal context. It can refer to a court’s right to jurisdiction in a case, or to knowledge of certain facts, or, sometimes, to a confession. The related word recognizance is also used in a legal context, often referring to an obligation to appear before a court or perform some other legal action, as in He was released on his own recognizance.  

Example: We need to have more cognizance of the issues that are being faced by the average citizen.

Where does cognizance come from?

The first records of the word cognizance come from the 1200s. It ultimately comes from the Latin cognōscere, meaning “to know.” The word cognition is based on the same root.

Cognizance doesn’t involve cognition so much as recognition. Having cognizance of something is recognizing that it exists, having knowledge of it, or being aware of it. The word is often used in the discussion of the importance of recognizing that a problem exists and then addressing it.

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What are some other forms related to cognizance?

  • cognisance (alternate spelling)
  • cognizant (adjective)

What are some synonyms for cognizance?

What are some words that share a root or word element with cognizance

What are some words that often get used in discussing cognizance?

How is cognizance used in real life?

Cognizant is typically used in a formal way. The word awareness means the same thing but is more commonly and broadly used.



Try using cognizance!

Which of the following words is a synonym of cognizance?

A. cognition
B. awareness
C. information
D. ignorance

How to use cognizance in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cognizance



/ (ˈkɒɡnɪzəns, ˈkɒnɪ-) /

knowledge; acknowledgment
take cognizance of to take notice of; acknowledge, esp officially
the range or scope of knowledge or perception
  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 US confession
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