Skip to main content

Acknowledge vs Recognize

Acknowledge and Recognize agree in meaning to take cognizance of in some way, usually in a way dictated by custom or convention and implying acceptance or assent.

Acknowledge is found in certain idioms where the concrete method of taking notice is not stated but connoted; one acknowledges a letter by sending a reply; one acknowledges a gift by a message indicating the receipt ami acceptance of the gift and one’s gratitude; one acknowledges a greeting by an appropriate conventional response (as a bow, smile, or friendly remark).

In freer expression acknowledge usually implies definite or formal acceptance, as of a principle as binding or of a claim as rightful or of a person as ruler.

  • He acknowledged the obligation of a son to support his aged parents.
  • In Italy during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries there were two acknowledged sources of political power: the Empire and the Church.

Recognize, though often used interchangeably with acknowledge, suggests more strongly authoritative sanction or full admission concerning a given or implied status or suggests actual and manifest, as contrasted with formal or merely verbal, acceptance.

  • In 1918 England, France, and the United States recognized Czechoslovakia as an independent state.
  • the ladies never acted so well as when they were in the presence of a fact which they acknowledged but did not recognize

Recognize sometimes implies, as acknowledge never does, full realization or comprehension.

  • courts . . . have been . . . slow to recognize that statutes . . . may imply a policy different from that of the common law
    Justice Holmesy