re·​ca·​pit·​u·​la·​tion ˌrē-kə-ˌpi-chə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce recapitulation (audio)
: a concise summary
: the hypothetical occurrence in an individual organism's development of successive stages resembling the series of ancestral types from which it has descended so that the ontogeny of the individual retraces the phylogeny of its group
: the third section of a sonata form

Examples of recapitulation in a Sentence

will begin his presentation with a recapitulation of the research done on the disease up to this point
Recent Examples on the Web Here, Hondo begins a large-scale recapitulation, in a handful of scenes, of the grimly infuriating history of French colonialism from the seventeenth century to the twentieth, and of a reliance on slave labor that lasted in the Caribbean colonies until the mid-nineteenth century. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 20 Mar. 2024 The life cycle of the frog resembles a recapitulation of fish becoming amphibians, over eons. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, 31 Aug. 2023 Because such change is universal in the natural world, and because photography is now 180 years old, recapitulation of historical photographs has gained traction in many fields. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, 27 Aug. 2019 Former intelligence officials who served Democratic administrations in the past were even less reserved in their assessment of the threat posed by the recapitulation of the Taliban’s regime. The Editors, National Review, 25 Apr. 2023 The former is the position that humankind derives from one single pair or population (the former a straightforward recapitulation of the standard Abrahamic model). Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 27 Dec. 2011 This seems to be a recapitulation of the Lee Siegel's attack on the internet from a few years back. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 1 Feb. 2012 Before the movement’s closing recapitulation of those themes, the players give us a spine-tingling moment. New York Times, 23 June 2022 Compared with the recapitulation of these notes around the two-hour, nine-minute mark, the entry of certain notes during the exposition hits more harshly. New York Times, 24 Mar. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'recapitulation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of recapitulation was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near recapitulation

Cite this Entry

“Recapitulation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition


re·​ca·​pit·​u·​la·​tion ˌrē-kə-ˌpich-ə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce recapitulation (audio)
: the supposed repetition in the development of the individual of its phylogenetic history see recapitulation theory

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