Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 21, 2021 is:

cognoscente • kahn-yuh-SHEN-tee  • noun

: a person who has expert knowledge in a subject : connoisseur


“Though he was recognized among certain cognoscenti during his most active years, [American photographer Todd] Webb … had plenty to distract him from the trifles of stardom—including time spent as a fire ranger for the U.S. Forestry Service, naval photographer in World War II, gold prospector in Panama, and resident of, in turn, Provence, France; Bath, England; and Portland, Maine.” — David Foxley, Architectural Digest, 18 Apr. 2017

“Liz Goldwyn is, in fact, a film-world royal—her grandfather was the Hollywood kingpin Samuel Goldwyn—not to mention a fashion-world darling and an art-world cognoscente.” — Peter Haldeman, The New York Times, 3 Jan. 2014

Did you know?

Cognoscente and connoisseur are more than synonyms; they’re also linguistic cousins. Both terms descend from the Latin verb cognōscere, meaning “to know,” and they’re not alone. You might guess that cognizance and cognition are members of the cognōscere clan. Do you also recognize a family resemblance in recognize? Can you see through the disguise of incognito? Did you have a premonition that we would mention precognition? Cognoscente itself came to English by way of Italian and has been a part of the language since the late 1700s.

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