Definition of recognize in English:


(also recognise)


  • 1Identify (someone or something) from having encountered them before; know again.

    ‘I recognized her when her wig fell off’
    ‘Julia hardly recognized Jill when they met’
    • ‘But what about those days when cold fingers or a hangover mean you hardly recognise your own signature?’
    • ‘Celeste hardly recognized the voice as her own.’
    • ‘She said she hardly recognized her place when she got back to it.’
    • ‘At first glance one would hardly recognize the place from the pictures the world saw on television in 1989.’
    • ‘Gibbs may hardly recognize the sport and the team he left more than a decade ago.’
    • ‘I hardly recognized my little cousin when the two of them came back from Springfield.’
    • ‘She peered at her friend, hardly recognizing her face.’
    • ‘They both were dressed like fashion models and wore so much makeup you hardly recognized them.’
    • ‘On my way back I hardly recognized the cities or even the small villages.’
    • ‘He listened to himself say the first word that he'd spoken in weeks, and realised that he hardly recognised his own voice.’
    • ‘If you travelled back in time two centuries on Christmas Day, you'd hardly recognise the festive season.’
    • ‘It's New Year's Day and I'm in a town I know well from many, many visits in the past but today I hardly recognise it.’
    • ‘His voice was so soft, I could hardly recognize it.’
    • ‘I went out in Winchester briefly last night, and hardly recognised a soul.’
    • ‘I stare out the window, hardly recognizing our own house as Sam pulls into the garage.’
    • ‘When Arian opened the door to let his dog into the room he hardly recognized the poor creature for the way its fur puffed out.’
    • ‘But I could no longer read, drive, recognise faces or distinguish colours.’
    • ‘You'll hardly recognise the new-look magazine next week, such is the transformation in store.’
    • ‘Every time he comes back to our London flat he hardly recognises the place, because I've got bored and moved all the furniture and changed the place.’
    • ‘They still visit regularly, providing the inspiration for Kerr's next book, but on a recent trip to the farm they worked so hard to sustain they were shocked to find they hardly recognised it.’
    1. 1.1 Identify from knowledge of appearance or character.
      ‘Pat is very good at recognizing wild flowers’
      • ‘The condition can be recognized by the appearance of a red line along the edge of the ‘paddlers’ at the rear of the crab.’
      • ‘Because smallpox is typically transmitted via direct contact with an infected person, the presence of smallpox could be recognized by the appearance of symptoms.’
      • ‘Despite color blindness that would prevent him from recognizing the distinctive green for ‘go,’ he was accepted as a paratrooper.’
      • ‘Because pediatric cases of the condition are rarely recognized or reported, knowledge is limited and is based mostly on case reports and small numbers of patients.’
      • ‘After they have definitely formed they can be recognized by their thick stubby appearance.’
      • ‘That came as a surprise to me, for while there were moments during the film that were mildly amusing, I would hardly have recognized it as a satire or a comedy of any sort.’
      • ‘A shocked woman, who recognised him from the media coverage of his case, described how she saw him at a garage in Queensway about a fortnight ago.’
      • ‘The Glumiflorae are the grasses, sedges, rushes, and cattails, and are easily recognized by their ‘grassy’ appearance.’
      • ‘A company must ensure that customers can immediately recognize its distinctive products in the market-place.’
      identify, place, know, know again, pick out, put a name to
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a computer or other machine) automatically identify and respond correctly to (a sound, printed character, etc.)
      ‘Dr Friedman is programming his computer to recognize the shapes of strokes in the hands of various writers’
      • ‘Once power is applied and the USB cable connected, the computer should immediately recognize the drive and make it ready for use.’
      • ‘There's a file entitled ‘play copy’ which my computer recognises as a media player file.’
      • ‘If everything works correctly, both Ethernet cards will be recognized, and they will both be configured.’
      • ‘Windows will automatically recognize the new pointing device, but will detect it as a mouse and not a graphic tablet.’
      • ‘Today's computers can recognize faces, human speech and handwriting.’
      • ‘If you want your site to be recognized by search engines, then go out of your way to register your site with them.’
      • ‘We will develop computer software to automatically recognize the genre of documents by exploiting observed regularities of substance and form.’
      • ‘Why can't a computer just recognize who you are and let you get to work?’
      • ‘My computer did not recognize the camera as a drive.’
      • ‘Unlike many portables which require you to download drivers first, this one will plug into any computer and be recognised as a hard disk for you to transfer files.’
      • ‘The computer system recognises and checks car number plates - particularly at the shopping centre.’
      • ‘How do I go about disabling the on-board sound so that the computer will recognize and use the new sound card?’
      • ‘Even if a search engine recognizes the link, they won't give it much weight.’
      • ‘All the door staff were primed to leap into action when the ticket machines recognised the 10-millionth visitor and were waiting for the moment.’
      • ‘There are several different machines that recognize audio, whether it is speech or music.’
      • ‘When volunteers pretended to feel one of these emotions, the computer recognized the emotion correctly 98 per cent of the time.’
      • ‘Your computer may recognise these slots as external storage devices - files from a memory card can be loaded or copied just as you would from a hard drive.’
      • ‘In a test of three keyboards that produce less noise, characters were recognized correctly more than 90 per cent of the time.’
      • ‘Plug that into the now-ubiquitous USB port on a PC or Mac and the computer will recognize it automatically.’
      • ‘Getting computers to recognise faces is notoriously difficult.’
  • 2Acknowledge the existence, validity, or legality of.

    ‘the defence is recognized in British law’
    ‘he was recognized as an international authority’
    • ‘We need to turn this idea upside down, and recognize that all politics in our era is global.’
    • ‘The curriculum was geared to nonsense subjects while PE and sport were hardly recognised.’
    • ‘That meant recognizing that new knowledge comes with the passing of time.’
    • ‘As with Jeff's fight, epic flights like these should be recognized and remembered for years to come.’
    • ‘For their part, landlords resented the tendency of British governments and rational commentators to fail to recognize the difficulties they encountered.’
    • ‘The fact that as many, if not more, offenders spring from privileged backgrounds is hardly recognized.’
    • ‘When good things touch our life, we hardly recognise their presence.’
    • ‘Child abuse was only formally recognised by doctors 40 years ago and has remained a field clouded by controversy ever since.’
    • ‘More than ever before, lifestyle and behavior are being recognized as important factors in physical health and physical illness.’
    • ‘Networking with experts in other disciplines and collaborating with statisticians should be recognized as an important way to conduct research and disseminate findings.’
    • ‘The value of traditional knowledge and anecdotal information should be recognized by the co-management group.’
    • ‘Excessive body fat, especially in areas such as the abdomen, is increasingly recognized as an important risk factor for killers like heart disease and diabetes.’
    • ‘It demands a class identity that recognizes difference, but defines what we hold in common in society and who the enemy is.’
    • ‘The importance of Nature and knowledge of the world around us has not been recognised by our schools.’
    • ‘We must recognise that the appearance of the city has an impact on visitor numbers.’
    • ‘Yet one has to recognize at the outset that there are methodological problems with this.’
    • ‘The lasting influence that pre-schooling can have over a child's development and future is an area that should be recognized and appreciated.’
    • ‘Polly is recognized by her peers for her extensive knowledge and competency in the areas of hematology and oncology.’
    • ‘Throughout the world, paternity leave has been recognized as an important means of reconciling the professional and familial lives of workers.’
    acknowledge, accept, admit, concede, allow, grant, confess, own
    officially approve, certify, accredit, endorse, sanction, put the seal of approval on
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Show official appreciation of; reward formally.
      ‘his work was recognized by an honorary degree from Glasgow University’
      • ‘Quite often, some of these amateur designers appear ill at ease when the time comes to appear on stage and be recognized for their efforts.’
      • ‘Carers in Portlaoise are being formally recognised for the first time with City & Guild certificates.’
      • ‘Sport England has relaunched an award scheme designed to reward and recognise the country's most dedicated coaches - the Sport England Coach of the Year Awards.’
      • ‘I'd like my intelligence and my ability to contribute to this country to be recognised formally with a nice stamp on my passport.’
      • ‘Understandably, the Royal Society of Chemistry has just honoured Holmes with a fellowship, the first time an imaginary character is being recognised.’
      • ‘The bravery of seven Solomon Islands men who rescued three Australian soldiers on August 30 has been formally recognised.’
      • ‘The awards recognize excellence in adult fiction and nonfiction by African American authors published in 2003.’
      • ‘The Army must also reward or recognize those who serve in positions that cultivate the broad perspectives that are necessary to acquire strategic leadership skills.’
      • ‘The award recognizes significant contributions and leadership in promoting and developing Iowa agriculture.’
      • ‘Thirty-five years after fighting in Vietnam, a vet has been formally recognised for his service by the Army.’
      pay tribute to, show appreciation of, appreciate, give recognition to, show gratitude to, be grateful for, acclaim, commend, salute, applaud, take one's hat off to, reward, honour, pay homage to
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 Officially regard (a qualification) as valid or proper.
      ‘these qualifications are recognized by the Department of Education’
      • ‘But she admitted that the intermediate qualifications were not being recognised by employers.’
      • ‘Getting qualifications recognized is not the only problem new immigrants face.’
      • ‘An academic degree from the United Kingdom is generally recognised and respected the world over.’
      • ‘There were difficulties in having qualifications recognised and for many it was a case of starting from scratch on arrival.’
      • ‘Many of the migrants were lawyers, judges and engineers but only the doctors had their qualifications recognised.’
      • ‘One of the major problems is that the college will recognise the qualifications of people who become specialists, but it will not recognise their undergraduate qualifications.’
      • ‘Provision is made for extensive training which could lead to recognised qualifications, and there is no conflict of interest there.’
      • ‘In the mean time, he is trying to complete three reports that will allow him to have his qualifications recognised.’
      • ‘Expats do not want to bring their kids home, because they are afraid that they will end up with qualifications that are not recognised around the world.’
      • ‘We feared in the past that mainland academic qualifications would not be recognised and we could not get a job with that.’
      • ‘Only if they pass these stages will they sit a final exam and gain the St Andrews Standard, a qualification that will be recognised around the world.’
    3. 2.3 Grant diplomatic recognition to (a country or government)
      ‘countries which recognized East Germany’
      ‘they were refusing to recognize the puppet regime’
      • ‘Protesters also point out that this view is shared by dozens of African and Carribean nations which have refused to recognize Latortue's government.’
      • ‘The United States rejected this proposal, refusing to recognize any Communist country.’
      • ‘Mexico, Argentina and France condemned the coup and refused to recognize the new government.’
      • ‘Unlike other members of the Commonwealth, Australia joined the US in refusing to recognise Communist China.’
      • ‘China, which claims Taiwan as a province, does not allow countries that recognize Beijing to concurrently have diplomatic relations with Taipei.’
      • ‘Up until 1929, the Vatican refused to recognise the Italian government.’
      • ‘It would be an impossible precedent for the EU to accept one country that does not recognize the legitimate government of another EU member.’
      • ‘The US and Japan have refused to recognize Taiwan as an independent state for over two decades.’
      • ‘On a brief visit to Fiji, New Zealand Foreign Minister Geoff Goff declared that his country refused to recognise the interim government as constitutional.’
      • ‘France, the United States and other European powers refused to recognize Haiti for decades and when recognition was forthcoming, it was at a very heavy price.’
      • ‘The resolution paves the way for an internationally recognised representative Government of Iraq to be formed.’
      • ‘He called on other opposition political leaders to fully recognise the new Government and work with it to develop Zambia.’
      • ‘It was only in 1986 that Spain recognized Israel and established diplomatic ties.’
      • ‘Only 27 countries, mainly in Latin America, Africa and the South Pacific, diplomatically recognize Taiwan.’
      • ‘Twenty-five remaining African and Latin American countries recognize Taiwan diplomatically instead of China.’
      • ‘Jamaica has refused to recognize Haiti's new government, pending a meeting of Caricom slated for March 25-26.’
      • ‘The emerging Free State refused to recognize Northern Ireland.’
      • ‘Only 26 countries, most of them in Central America, Africa and the South Pacific, recognize the Republic of China, the official name used by Taipei.’
      • ‘Only a handful of countries, mostly poverty-stricken, recognize the Republic of China, the official name used by Taiwan, as a country.’
      • ‘Imagine what could happen if countries keep pulling out of the coalition, if France and Germany refuse to recognize an occupied Iraq as a sovereign nation.’
    4. 2.4 (of a person presiding at a meeting or debate) call on (someone) to speak.
      • ‘The gentleman's time is expired. The Chair recognizes Governor Thompson.’
      • ‘As the presiding officer, he recognises those members who wish to speak.’
      • ‘The chair recognized Representative Hochberg to explain the measure.’


Late Middle English (earliest attested as a term in Scots law): from Old French reconniss-, stem of reconnaistre, from Latin recognoscere ‘know again, recall to mind’, from re- ‘again’ + cognoscere ‘learn’.