verb (1)
re·​cede | \ri-ˈsēd \
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 \
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

The human figures start to appear on the cave walls around 13,600 years ago, at a time when the ice sheets still dominated the world’s northern latitudes but had begun to slowly recede. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "The world’s oldest figurative drawing depicts a wounded animal," 9 Nov. 2018 Those with the best views will be able to see the lunar eclipse at key moments — when earth’s shadow begins to cover the moon, when the moon turns red, and when the shadow begins to recede, all of which will happen over a period of four hours. Time, "Practically Everyone in the World Will See the Longest Eclipse of the Century on July 27. Here's What to Know," 3 July 2018 However, the rain threat is believed to be over and waters are beginning to recede. CBS News, "Des Moines, Iowa, begins cleanup following historic flooding," 1 July 2018 By morning, the water had begun to recede, but that was just the beginning Tran's heroism. Joy Sewing, Houston Chronicle, "Executive spurred to action after his house becomes a shelter for neighbors," 19 June 2018 The Ohio River is now beginning to recede after reaching its highest crest in 21 years. Nate Chute, Indianapolis Star, "Flooding in Indiana: What drones captured on the Ohio, St. Joseph rivers," 27 Feb. 2018 But for now, with the caravan still more than 1,700 miles from the US border, the story has receded from Fox News just as fast as the midterm elections came and went. Aaron Rupar, Vox, "Fox News barely mentions caravan first morning after midterms," 7 Nov. 2018 In the same place where contour powder would go to make those hollows recede, blush brings attention to Khaliha's cheekbones by grabbing attention instead, softening and enhancing her bone structure without exaggerating her angles. Michelle Sulcov, Glamour, "These Before-and-After Photos Show What a Difference Blush Can Make," 31 Aug. 2018 As long as your friend doesn’t seem in danger of harming themselves or others, consider taking a beat and starting the conversation after the anger and annoyance have receded, ideally in person. Brittany Risher, SELF, "12 Things to Do When You Know Someone You Love Isn't 'Fine'," 18 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Newsletter Sign-up For example, leveraged funds such as hedge funds have ramped up bets against futures tracking the Cboe Volatility Index in recent weeks, wagering that market volatility will recede. Gunjan Banerji, WSJ, "Investor Fears Drive Up Hedging Costs," 11 Oct. 2018 Floodwaters already receding on one stretch of Interstate 40 left thousands of rotting fish on the pavement for firefighters to clean up. Frank Miles, Fox News, "Florence could trigger 'record' flooding in South Carolina; thousands urged to evacuate," 24 Sep. 2018 Despite the hard work, rescuers’ progress was fitful at best, with no guarantee the water will soon recede with months left in Thailand’s rainy season. Washington Post, "Water reaches near entrance of Thai cave where 13 missing," 28 June 2018 In the 1920s, astronomers observed that distant galaxies are rapidly receding from Earth and from one another. Dan Falk /, NBC News, "What is the Big Bang theory?," 9 June 2018 The onboard ranger explained that the onetime showpiece of Glacier Bay had receded out of sight, a retreat of more than 30 miles since Muir first saw it. Anchorage Daily News, "A DIY trip through Alaska’s Inside Passage," 26 May 2018 That is, for every 3.3 million light-years of space between us and another galaxy, the latter will recede from us 73.5 kilometers per second faster. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "Cosmic Conflict: Diverging Data on Universe’s Expansion Polarizes Scientists," 16 May 2018 Adding Watson doesn’t mean Young and Carter will quietly recede to the background. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, "Transfer could solve RB woes for Texas," 8 May 2018 But a severe drought meant that prospect was already receding. The Economist, "Calm, at a high cost," 4 May 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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Statistics for recede

Last Updated

27 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for recede

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

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More Definitions for recede


re·​cede | \ri-ˈsēd \
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with recede

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for recede

Spanish Central: Translation of recede

Nglish: Translation of recede for Spanish Speakers

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