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1. An obligation, entered into before a judge or magistrate, to perform a particular action, such as appearing in court, without the posting of a bond: released on his own recognizance.
2. A sum of money pledged to assure the performance of such an action.
[Middle English recognisanze, from Old French recognuissance, alteration (influenced by Medieval Latin recognizāre, to recognize) of reconoissance, from reconoistre, reconoiss-, to recognize; see recognize.]