1 of 2

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

Verb (1) the sound of sirens receded as the fire engines roared off into the distance after the rain stops, the floodwaters should gradually recede
Recent Examples on the Web
Once the water receded, the mangrove was in such dire condition that researchers brought kiddie pools to the site to fill up with freshwater. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 16 July 2024 As the water receded with the tide from the mouth of two creeks in Taiwan, the gravelly bottom came into view. Irene Wright, Miami Herald, 11 July 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 See all Example Sentences for recede 

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 22 Jul. 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!