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verb (1)

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

intransitive verb

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


2 of 2

verb (2)

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

transitive verb

: to cede back to a former possessor
Choose the Right Synonym for recede

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
Even though nine players from the Tennessee A&I championship teams went on to play professional basketball, their accomplishments quickly receded in the Jim Crow South. Sopan Deb, New York Times, 5 Apr. 2024 Instead of obscuring the last drops of visible sunlight, the moon receded from the sun, gradually releasing sunlight and warmth. Yaakov Zinberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Apr. 2024 Then at the 20-minute mark, the band receded to a hush as Loueke struck the strings with soft, meticulous notes, accompanied by rhythmic clicking scatting, a moment of sheer exhilaration by restraint, as Blanchard, decked out in glittery sneakers, shuffling around in admiration. Journal Sentinel, 3 Apr. 2024 After Iran and Saudi Arabia restored diplomatic relations a year ago, regional tensions receded. Joost Hiltermann, Foreign Affairs, 28 Mar. 2024 This is on top of other challenges, which in Vietnam include worsening droughts and receding ground water levels. Aniruddha Ghosal, Fortune Asia, 25 Mar. 2024 Islamic extremist terrorism, which animated American foreign policy and defense strategy for a decade and a half after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has receded as a top-tier concern. Ken Dilanian, NBC News, 25 Mar. 2024 Now, such excesses have mostly receded, largely thanks to the increasing power of the device in our palms, but also because hoteliers have again acknowledged the inherent luxury of simplicity. The Editors, Robb Report, 28 Mar. 2024 Russ Wiles Recession risks are receding, according to a group of 16 national bank economists, who now peg the odds of a downturn at around 30%, for both this year and next. The Arizona Republic, 28 Mar. 2024
Lush vegetation has grown up in the decades since Muir glacier melted and receded. Lesley Evans Ogden, Discover Magazine, 7 Apr. 2023 Majed al-Sorour, a LIV board member, was seen as central to LIV’s operations before his profile receded recently for reasons that have not been made public. Guilbert Gates, New York Times, 5 Apr. 2023 For example, when a glacier first recedes there is no soil, explains Ficetola. Lesley Evans Ogden, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Apr. 2023 Although the broader banking industry panic has receded, the fallout will continue, Dimon said in his missive to JPMorgan shareholders. Elizabeth Napolitano, CBS News, 4 Apr. 2023 The coastline is receding as much as 18 feet a year at the mouth of the Paraíba do Sul river in Atafona, home to 7,000 people, satellite images show. Samantha Pearson, WSJ, 1 Apr. 2023 Coroner's investigators are still trying to identify other remains found last year while the lake recedes because of drought, county spokeswoman Stacey Welling said. Ken Ritter, The Arizona Republic, 29 Mar. 2023 Coroner's investigators are still trying to identify other remains found last year while the lake recedes because of the drought, county spokeswoman Stacey Welling said. Natalie Neysa Alund, USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2023 The Bluetooth connectivity and customizable features on the Oral-B app make this toothbrush a strong choice for people with receding gums or who are prone to over-brushing. Samson McDougall, Health, 29 Mar. 2023

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

Word History


Verb (1)

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

Verb (2)

re- + cede

First Known Use

Verb (1)

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

Verb (2)

1771, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near recede

Cite this Entry

“Recede.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


receded; receding
: to move back or away
the flood waters receded
: to slant backward
a receding forehead
: to grow less or smaller
a receding debt

More from Merriam-Webster on recede

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