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[Anglo-French recognisance reconisance, literally, recognition, from Old French reconoisance, from reconoistre to recognize, from Latin recognoscere]
1 : an obligation entered into on the record before a court or magistrate requiring the performance of an act (as the paying of a debt) usually under penalty of a money forfeiture
: the sum liable to forfeiture
2 : a simple personal obligation or undertaking (as to appear in court) entered into before a magistrate and having no money penalty attached [released on his own ]
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.