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  1. an act of recognizing or the state of being recognized.
  2. the identification of something as having been previously seen, heard, known, etc.
  3. the perception of something as existing or true; realization.
  4. the acknowledgment of something as valid or as entitled to consideration: the recognition of a claim.
  5. the acknowledgment of achievement, service, merit, etc.
  6. the expression of this in the form of some token of appreciation: This promotion constitutes our recognition of her exceptional ability.
  7. formal acknowledgment conveying approval or sanction.
  8. acknowledgment of right to be heard or given attention: The chairman refused recognition to any delegate until order could be restored.
  9. International Law. an official act by which one state acknowledges the existence of another state or government, or of belligerency or insurgency.
  10. the automated conversion of information, as words or images, into a form that can be processed by a machine, especially a computer or computerized device.Compare optical character recognition, pattern recognition.
  11. Biochemistry. the responsiveness of one substance to another based on the reciprocal fit of a portion of their molecular shapes.

Origin of recognition

1425–75; late Middle English recognicion (< Old French) < Latin recognitiōn- (stem of recognitiō), equivalent to recognit(us) (past participle of recognōscere; see recognize) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsrec·og·ni·tion·al, adjectivere·cog·ni·tive [ri-kog-ni-tiv] /rɪˈkɒg nɪ tɪv/, re·cog·ni·to·ry [ri-kog-ni-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /rɪˈkɒg nɪˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjectivepre·rec·og·ni·tion, nounun·re·cog·ni·to·ry, adjective

Synonyms for recognition

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for recognition

Contemporary Examples of recognition

Historical Examples of recognition

British Dictionary definitions for recognition


  1. the act of recognizing or fact of being recognized
  2. acceptance or acknowledgment of a claim, duty, fact, truth, etc
  3. a token of thanks or acknowledgment
  4. formal acknowledgment of a government or of the independence of a country
  5. mainly US and Canadian an instance of a chairman granting a person the right to speak in a deliberative body, debate, etc
Derived Formsrecognitive (rɪˈkɒɡnɪtɪv) or recognitory, adjective

Word Origin for recognition

C15: from Latin recognitiō, from recognoscere to know again, from re- + cognoscere to know, ascertain
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 recognition

mid-15c., "knowledge of an event or incident; understanding," from Middle French recognition (15c.) and directly from Latin recognitionem (nominative recognitio) "a reviewing, investigation, examination," noun of action from past participle stem of recognoscere "to acknowledge, know again; examine" (see recognize).

Sense of "formal avowal of knowledge and approval" is from 1590s; especially acknowledgement of the independence of a country by a state formerly exercising sovereignty (1824). Meaning "a knowing again" is from 1798.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

recognition in Medicine


  1. An awareness that something perceived has been perceived before.
  2. The ability of one molecule to attach itself to another molecule having a complementary shape, as in enzyme-substrate interactions.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

recognition in Culture


In diplomacy, the act by which one nation acknowledges that a foreign government is a legitimate government and exchanges diplomats with it. The withholding of recognition is a way for one government to show its disapproval of another.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.