verb (1)
re·​cede | \ ri-ˈsēd How to pronounce recede (audio) \
receded; receding

Definition of recede

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to move back or away : withdraw a receding hairline
b : to slant backward
2 : to grow less or smaller : diminish, decrease a receding deficit


verb (2)
re·​cede | \ (ˌ)rē-ˈsēd How to pronounce recede (audio) \
receded; receding; recedes

Definition of recede (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to cede back to a former possessor

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Choose the Right Synonym for recede

Verb (1)

recede, retreat, retract, back mean to move backward. recede implies a gradual withdrawing from a forward or high fixed point in time or space. the flood waters gradually receded retreat implies withdrawal from a point or position reached. retreating soldiers retract implies drawing back from an extended position. a cat retracting its claws back is used with up, down, out, or off to refer to any retrograde motion. backed off on the throttle

Examples of recede in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But at some point the virus will recede, scaling back the demand for face masks. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "GM revived Warren plant for face mask production. What happens when demand slows?," 8 June 2020 Car enthusiasts across the country lamented the loss this week, sharing photos and news coverage on Facebook of several of the Fieros sitting in floodwaters, at least one nearly submerged, before the water had receded. Angie Jackson, Detroit Free Press, "Midland County floods destroy man’s Pontiac Fiero collection: 'It's devastating'," 21 May 2020 Snyder Road was closed until storm water receded from covering both lanes. cleveland, "Police check out threat to state official and unhappy camper during quarantine: Bainbridge Township Police Blotter," 18 May 2020 But barring other factors, the economy should snap back once the water recedes or the ground stops shaking. Ben Casselman, New York Times, "Will the Coronavirus Cause a Recession? Keep Your Eye on the Barbershops," 10 Mar. 2020 Once the water has receded, they can be lowered again — allowing shipping traffic to continue and for the tidal system to flush out the lagoon. Washington Post, "Venice tide barriers pass another test, but skeptics remain," 7 Dec. 2019 When the water receded and the toll was assessed, 230,000 people were dead and 1.7 million others had lost their homes. Wired, "How Amateur Video Is Helping Us Understand Deadly Tsunamis," 24 Sep. 2019 The idea that the water would recede if only nature could be tamed still motivates Indonesia’s planners. The Economist, "Climate change is forcing Asian cities to rethink their flood defences," 19 Sep. 2019 Last fall, as a drought gripped northern Iraq, the water in the reservoir held back by Mosul Dam receded enough to reveal an ancient palace dating to the Mittani Empire. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Drought Reveals Ancient Palace in Iraqi Reservoir," 1 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But at some point the virus will recede, scaling back the demand for face masks. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "GM revived Warren plant for face mask production. What happens when demand slows?," 8 June 2020 What often happens is that a novel variant of flu virus spreads around the world and then recedes, kind of like a tsunami. John Lauerman,, "Why a Second Wave of Covid-19 Is Already a Worry," 23 May 2020 In a sign of receding tensions in international finance, the cost to borrow dollars against other currencies markets has sharply reversed in recent days. Caitlin Ostroff, WSJ, "Dollar Funding Strains Ease in International Markets," 3 Apr. 2020 Before receding into the shadows himself, Obi-Wan sends out a distress signal (as shown in the game) to remaining Jedi, some of which were also able to escape. Nick Romano,, "How Jedi: Fallen Order connects to the larger Star Wars universe," 21 Nov. 2019 The weaver and designer sees the cover as a sign of receding bigotry in Mexico toward muxes. NBC News, "Vogue cover spotlights Mexico's indigenous transgender women," 21 Nov. 2019 Officials took advantage of receding floodwaters to begin assessing how many homes and cars were flooded. Juan A. Lozano, Houston Chronicle, "Houston area sees relief, rescues after Imelda leaves 5 dead," 21 Sep. 2019 Once inside, you're confronted with endlessly receding vistas of fabric phalluses or pumpkins sprinkled with polka dots, or winking lights that send your imagination zooming off like a spaceship in search of supernovas and black holes. Steven Litt,, "Kusama 'Infinity Mirrors' show in Toronto offers preview of what's coming to Cleveland (photos)," 6 May 2018 Los Angeles County is on pace to pass 100 breweries in 2018, and the tide shows no sign of receding. John Verive,, "Why craft beer lovers should be drinking in Covina and Pomona," 4 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'recede.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of recede

Verb (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (2)

1771, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for recede

Verb (1)

Middle English, from Latin recedere to go back, from re- + cedere to go

Verb (2)

re- + cede

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Time Traveler for recede

Time Traveler

The first known use of recede was in the 15th century

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Statistics for recede

Last Updated

25 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Recede.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for recede


re·​cede | \ ri-ˈsēd How to pronounce recede (audio) \
receded; receding

Kids Definition of recede

1 : to move back or away Floodwaters are receding.
2 : to become smaller or weaker … I heard … footsteps receding.— Avi, Crispin

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More from Merriam-Webster on recede

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for recede

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with recede

Spanish Central: Translation of recede

Nglish: Translation of recede for Spanish Speakers

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