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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English conysaunce, from Old French conysance (recognition," later, "knowledge), from Old French conoissance (acquaintance, recognition; knowledge, wisdom), from conoistre (to know), from Latin cognōscō (know), from con- (with) + gnōscō (know).


  • enPR: kŏg'nĭzəns, IPA(key): /ˈkɒɡnɪzəns/
  • (obsolete) enPR: kŏ'nĭzəns, IPA(key): /ˈkɒnɪzəns/
  • Hyphenation: cog‧ni‧zance


cognizance (countable and uncountable, plural cognizances)

  1. An emblem, badge or device, used as a distinguishing mark by the body of retainers of a royal or noble house.
  2. Notice or awareness.
    • 1842, [anonymous collaborator of Letitia Elizabeth Landon], chapter XLIII, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume II, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, page 244:
      Poor Lady Rotheles was really so imprudent on the late occasion of her niece's elopement as to go into a passion, and to utter such a tirade against her, her lord was roused from his habitual, but not natural listlessness, and became, in consequence, master of sentiments and secrets hitherto most commendably concealed from his cognizance.
    • 1891, Oscar Wilde, chapter 8, in The Picture of Dorian Gray:
      As soon as he had left, he rushed to the screen and drew it back. No; there was no further change in the picture. It had received the news of Sibyl Vane's death before he had known of it himself. It was conscious of the events of life as they occurred. The vicious cruelty that marred the fine lines of the mouth had, no doubt, appeared at the very moment that the girl had drunk the poison, whatever it was. Or was it indifferent to results? Did it merely take cognizance of what passed within the soul?
  3. Jurisdiction.

Related terms[edit]