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verb re·cip·ro·cate \ri-ˈsi-prə-ˌkāt\

Simple Definition of reciprocate

  • : to do (something) for or to someone who has done something similar for or to you

  • : to have (a feeling) for someone who has the same feeling for you

  • : to move back and forth again and again

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of reciprocate



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to give and take mutually

  3. 2 :  to return in kind or degree <reciprocate a compliment gracefully>

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to make a return for something <we hope to reciprocate for your kindness>

  6. 2 :  to move forward and backward alternately <a reciprocating valve>


play \-ˌkā-tər\ noun

Examples of reciprocate in a sentence

  1. Individuals who have received a dedication … are expected to reciprocate with a gift, perhaps placing a few folded notes of money into the hat when they give it back. —A. L. Kennedy, On Bullfighting, 1999

  2. When he entered the room … Agnes was conscious of a latent feeling which secretly reciprocated Henry's unconcealed pleasure on meeting her again. —Wilkie Collins, The Haunted Hotel, 1878

  3. Thus expressing himself, the little lawyer gave Mr. Winkle a poke in the chest, which that gentleman reciprocated; after which they both laughed very loudly … —Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1837

  4. They appreciated her kindness but were not ready to reciprocate the gesture.

  5. <reciprocated the favor by driving their neighbor to the airport>

Origin and Etymology of reciprocate

(see 1reciprocal)

First Known Use: 1607

Synonym Discussion of reciprocate

reciprocate, retaliate, requite, return mean to give back usually in kind or in quantity. reciprocate implies a mutual or equivalent exchange or a paying back of what one has received <reciprocated their hospitality by inviting them for a visit>. retaliate usually implies a paying back of injury in exact kind, often vengefully <the enemy retaliated by executing their prisoners>. requite implies a paying back according to one's preference and often not equivalently <requited her love with cold indifference>. return implies a paying or giving back <returned their call> <return good for evil>.

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