See more synonyms for recognize on
verb (used with object), rec·og·nized, rec·og·niz·ing.
  1. to identify as something or someone previously seen, known, etc.: He had changed so much that one could scarcely recognize him.
  2. to identify from knowledge of appearance or characteristics: I recognized him from the description. They recognized him as a fraud.
  3. to perceive as existing or true; realize: to be the first to recognize a fact.
  4. to acknowledge as the person entitled to speak at a particular time: The Speaker recognized the congressman from Maine.
  5. to acknowledge formally as entitled to treatment as a political unit: The United States promptly recognized Israel.
  6. to acknowledge or accept formally a specified factual or legal situation: to recognize a successful revolutionary regime as the de facto government of the country.
  7. to acknowledge or treat as valid: to recognize a claim.
  8. to acknowledge acquaintance with, as by a greeting, handshake, etc.
  9. to show appreciation of (achievement, service, merit, etc.), as by some reward, public honor, or the like.
  10. Law. to acknowledge (an illegitimate child) as one's own.
  11. Biochemistry, Immunology. to bind with, cleave, or otherwise react to (another substance) as a result of fitting its molecular shape or a portion of its shape.
Also especially British, rec·og·nise.

Origin of recognize

1425–75; recogn(ition) + -ize; replacing late Middle English racunnysen, recognisen < Old French reconuiss-, stem of reconuistre < Latin recognōscere, equivalent to re- re- + cognōscere to know1; see cognition
Related formsrec·og·niz·a·ble [rek-uhg-nahy-zuh-buhl, rek-uhg-nahy-] /ˈrɛk əgˌnaɪ zə bəl, ˌrɛk əgˈnaɪ-/, adjectiverec·og·niz·a·bil·i·ty, nounrec·og·niz·a·bly, adverbrec·og·niz·er, nounnon·rec·og·nized, adjectivepre·rec·og·nize, verb (used with object), pre·rec·og·nized, pre·rec·og·niz·ing.qua·si-rec·og·nized, adjectiveun·rec·og·niz·a·ble, adjectiveun·rec·og·niz·a·bly, adverbun·rec·og·nized, adjectiveun·rec·og·niz·ing, adjectivewell-rec·og·nized, adjective

Synonyms for recognize

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

Related Words for unrecognizable

indistinguishable, bleary, distorted, fuzzy, unclear, vague, blurry, blurred

Examples from the Web for unrecognizable

Contemporary Examples of unrecognizable

Historical Examples of unrecognizable

  • What one man has, every man has, however hidden and unrecognizable.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • He could distinctly hear the rise and fall of their tones, but still they were unrecognizable.

    The Night Riders

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • The only thing they really had in common was that they were unrecognizable.

    Pagan Passions

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • "Some poetry, sir," came the crackling, unrecognizable sound of his voice.

    The Prussian Officer

    D. H. Lawrence

  • Let us return to the unrecognizable thing that was once a Mole.

British Dictionary definitions for unrecognizable



  1. not able to be recognized or identifiedtiny unrecognizable fragments



verb (tr)
  1. to perceive (a person, creature, or thing) to be the same as or belong to the same class as something previously seen or known; know again
  2. to accept or be aware of (a fact, duty, problem, etc)to recognize necessity
  3. to give formal acknowledgment of the status or legality of (a government, an accredited representative, etc)
  4. mainly US and Canadian to grant (a person) the right to speak in a deliberative body, debate, etc
  5. to give a token of thanks for (a service rendered, etc)
  6. to make formal acknowledgment of (a claim, etc)
  7. to show approval or appreciation of (something good or pleasing)
  8. to acknowledge or greet (a person), as when meeting by chance
  9. (intr) mainly US to enter into a recognizance
Derived Formsrecognizable or recognisable, adjectiverecognizability or recognisability, nounrecognizably or recognisably, adverbrecognizer or recogniser, noun

Word Origin for recognize

C15: from Latin 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 unrecognizable

1817, from un- (1) "not" + recognize + -able. Related: Unrecognizably.



early 15c., "resume possession of land," back-formation from recognizance, or else from Old French reconoiss-, stem of reconoistre "to know again, identify, recognize," from Latin recognoscere "acknowledge, recall to mind, know again; examine; certify," from re- "again" (see re-) + cognoscere "know" (see cognizance). Meaning "know again, recall or recover the knowledge of, perceive an identity with something formerly known or felt" first recorded 1530s. Related: Recognized; recognizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper