An award is something given to a person or a group of people to recognize excellence in a certain field; a certificate of excellence. Awards are often signified by trophies, titles, certificates, commemorative plaques, medals, badges, pins or ribbons. An award may carry a monetary prize given to the recipient, e.g., the Nobel Prize for contributions to society or the Pulitzer Prize for literary achievements. An award may also simply be a public acknowledgment of excellence, without any tangible token or prize.
Awards can be given by any person or institution, although the prestige of an award usually depends on the status of the awarder. Usually, awards are given by an organization of some sort, or by the office of an official within an organization or government. For instance, a special presidential citation (as given by the President of the United States) is a public announcement giving an official place of honor (e.g., President Ronald Reagan gave a special presidential citation in 1984 to the Disney Channel for its excellent children's television programming.)
People who have won certain prestigious awards, such as the Nobel Prize, a championship title in a sport, or an Academy Award (Oscar), can have the award become their identity, thereafter being known primarily for winning the award, rather than for any other achievement or occupation.
Mock awards, which typically recognize failures or atypical achievements, are also popular. They are usually given by people and organizations of lower or average prestige, such as comical organizations and individual writers. Popular mock awards include the Golden Raspberry Awards (Razzies), a satirical counterpart to the Academy Award which recognizes the worst movies, and the Darwin Awards, "given to people who seem to improve the human gene pool by accidentally killing or sterilizing themselves during a foolish or careless mistake."
One common type of award in the United States is the Employee of the Month award, where typically the recipients' names are listed in a prominent place in the business for that month.
Some awards are given only after a fee is paid by the recipient, such as the German Design Award.