Definition of cognate in English:



  • 1Linguistics
    (of a word) having the same linguistic derivation as another (e.g. English father, German Vater, Latin pater)

    ‘the term is obviously cognate with the Malay segan’
    • ‘‘Saxon’ is cognate with stranger in most Celtic languages, while ‘Welsh’ means foreigner in old Saxon.’
    • ‘English mother and German Mutter are cognate words.’
    • ‘The Greek ‘graphein’ (to write) and ‘grate’, ‘grind’ and even ‘scratch’ are probably cognate etymologically.’
    • ‘There is an interesting but short section on the local adaptive value of cultural rules including dialects and cognate words.’
    • ‘However, many linguists think he chose cognate terms too broadly to bolster his reconstruction.’
  • 2formal Related; connected.

    ‘cognate subjects such as physics and chemistry’
    • ‘Certainly, the Golden Rule extolled in the book - ‘what you do not want done to yourself, do not do unto others’ - is cognate with the notions of reciprocity and fair-mindedness.’
    • ‘Also from twelfth-century France is the cognate story of a man achieving animal transformation by stripping and rolling in the dirt at the new moon.’
    • ‘The Christian concept of passive heroism places a high value on endurance, which in Shakespeare's ethic is cognate with constancy and hence with truth.’
    • ‘His book deals with memes and other cognate subjects less frivolously and with much more academic rigour than I can muster.’
    • ‘The linguist had Maori friends and learned their language which helped him acquire fluency in the cognate language of Tikopia in his later fieldwork.’
    • ‘In Descartes's use, ‘deduction’ and cognate expressions seem to describe an extended passage in thought from one consideration to another without doubt or unclarity setting in.’
    • ‘In reflecting on the roles and responsibilities of an editor of a learned journal, I am reminded of the analogies made by a fellow editor of a cognate research journal.’
    • ‘Augustine never studied Hebrew, though he understood words of Punic spoken by the peasants and well knew that it was a cognate Semitic language.’
    • ‘It is cognate with the maxim no doubt misleadingly summarised as ‘all crime is local’.’
    • ‘Other cognate bird species are so alike in appearance that even experienced birders have trouble identifying them with confidence.’
    • ‘The pace of scientific discovery is driven by technical advances in experimentation, the invention of new techniques, and the application of ideas imported from cognate disciplines.’
    • ‘There is a major problem with some views concerning new developments in anthropology and cognate disciplines.’
    • ‘What we need is a conceptual ‘map’ that allows us to think through where ‘animation’ lies in relation to cognate subject areas.’
    • ‘The issue of organisational performance, embedded within the processes of organisational change and adaptation, has led to a rich research literature in a number of cognate disciplines.’
    • ‘To Johnny the two missing screws seemed cognate with the sonographer's lack of manners and unshaven cheeks.’
    • ‘Globally, this will put 17 million telephone repairmen, and another 48 million people who work in cognate branches of the phone industry, out of work.’
    • ‘His supporting analyses of property, social structure, poverty, progress, inequality, and cognate topics were wide ranging and deep.’
    • ‘It might be inferred that these leaders experience significant gaps in several key cognate areas.’
    • ‘We thought that it would be useful for the Court to look simply by way of analogy to the cases in cognate areas such as the cases on stamp duty dealing with resettlement.’
    • ‘Interferences with the amenities of land and personal injuries arising during the use of land are cognate subjects.’
    associated, related, connected, allied, interconnected, linked, coupled, correlated
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1Related to or descended from a common ancestor.
      Compare with agnate
      • ‘The separation of childbearing from domesticity leads to a need for extended families, which are primarily cognate kin groups.’
      related, kindred, akin, with a common ancestor
      View synonyms


  • 1Linguistics
    A cognate word.

    • ‘The successful bilingual readers also mentioned strategies specific to bilingual contexts, such as use of cognates and translating.’
    • ‘The word neshama is a cognate of nesheema, which means literally ‘breath.’’
    • ‘More than a dozen words and cognates are employed throughout the Old Testament for beauty.’
    • ‘The many lexical and grammatical cognates in English and Dutch probably give the Dutch learners of English a considerable head-start in the learning process.’
    • ‘It's a very old word, with cognates in most Germanic languages.’
  • 2Law
    A blood relative, especially on the mother's side.

    • ‘All distinction between agnates and cognates in matters of succession had been abolished at the very time when the great collection of Roman law had been assembled and codified.’
    • ‘A kin group usually includes cognates of all degrees and godparents.’


Early 17th century: from Latin cognatus, from co- together with + natus born.