[ri-kog-nuh-zuh ns, -kon-uh-]


  1. a bond or obligation of record entered into before a court of record or a magistrate, binding a person to do a particular act.
  2. the sum pledged as surety on such a bond.
Archaic. recognition.
Archaic. a token; badge.

Origin of recognizance

1350–1400; Middle English reconissaunce, recognisance < Old French reconuissance. See recognize, -ance Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for recognizance

Contemporary Examples of recognizance

Historical Examples of recognizance

  • "A writ of recognizance," the fat man said, handing his paper to the captain.

  • In the Paunsford recognizance Ralegh is set down as of the Court in 1577.

    Sir Walter Ralegh

    William Stebbing

  • Amos Jolliff discharged from his recognizance to attend as a witness.

    The Old Pike

    Thomas B. Searight

  • While here we one afternoon received orders to prepare for a recognizance.

  • It was a reprehensible affair, but he was released upon his own recognizance.

British Dictionary definitions for recognizance




  1. a bond entered into before a court or magistrate by which a person binds himself to do a specified act, as to appear in court on a stated day, keep the peace, or pay a debt
  2. a monetary sum pledged to the performance of such an act
an obsolete word for recognition
Derived Formsrecognizant or recognisant, adjective

Word Origin for recognizance

C14: from Old French reconoissance, from reconoistre to recognize
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 recognizance

early 14c., reconisaunce, "a bond acknowledging some obligation binding one over to do some particular act," from Old French reconissance "acknowledgment, recognition" (12c., Modern French reconnaissance), from reconoiss-, present participle stem of reconoistre (see recognize). Related: Recognizant.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper