re·​cess | \ ˈrē-ˌses How to pronounce recess (audio) , ri-ˈ\

Definition of recess

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the action of receding : recession
2 : a hidden, secret, or secluded place or part
3a : indentation, cleft a deep recess in the hill
b : alcove a recess lined with books
4 : a suspension of business or procedure often for rest or relaxation children playing at recess


recessed; recessing; recesses

Definition of recess (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to put into a recess recessed lighting
2 : to make a recess in
3 : to interrupt for a recess

intransitive verb

: to take a recess

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for recess

Synonyms: Noun

alcove, niche, nook

Synonyms: Verb

adjourn, prorogate, prorogue, suspend

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of recess in a Sentence


The students play outside after lunch and at recess. Do you have morning recess? The Senate debates will continue after the August recess. The Senate wanted to vote on the bill before recess.


The trial recessed for the holidays. The judge decided to recess the trial for the holidays.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Now the Senate majority leader, McConnell resisted calls by Democrats to immediately bring the Senate back from its August recess to vote on universal background checks. Joe Sonka, The Courier-Journal, "How McConnell has fought gun control despite a mass shooting in his hometown 30 years ago," 12 Sep. 2019 Conner and Christian sit together at lunch and play together at recess. Marisa Iati, Washington Post, "A boy held his crying classmate’s hand on the first day of school. A photo of the moment has gone viral.," 28 Aug. 2019 Pelosi, who reminded the audience that McConnell calls himself the Grim Reaper, said his inaction is not a cause for concern as Democrats approach the end of recess. Lauren Hernández,, "Pelosi, Speier talk gun control at a San Francisco town hall," 28 Aug. 2019 The children also have 20-30 minutes of daily recess, participate in daily physical education classes lasting 25-35 minutes and take naps the first half of the year before daytime rest is phased out. Carissa D. Lamkahouan, Houston Chronicle, "Pasadena ISD boosts pre-K program," 5 Aug. 2019 Bustos, according to the report, flew back to Washington Monday from her district to deal with the situation, which comes on the first week of the House’s six-week recess. NBC News, "Executive director of House Democrats' campaign arm resigns," 29 July 2019 Congress is moving toward a week-long Fourth of July recess and is under pressure to pass the legislation before leaving town. Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY, "Border crisis, immigration: What we know about child detention centers, deportations, the photo," 26 June 2019 Before the start of a congressional recess, lawmakers were pursuing avenues ranging from legislation to public pressure to address U.S. allegations of Russian election interference and chemical and biological weapons use. Courtney Mcbride, WSJ, "U.S. Finding on Russia Chemical Weapons Paves Way for New Sanctions," 6 Nov. 2018 When McConnell announced the cancellation of the August recess, Schumer said Democrats would devote the month to health care. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Senate in limbo between session and vacation as Manafort verdict looms," 18 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Shallow recessed wall niches reminiscent of days gone by complement the Mediterranean atmosphere. Monica Lander, The Mercury News, "Sponsored: Newly updated chateau near the beach in Santa Cruz County," 27 Aug. 2019 Granite or synthetic marble countertops, recessed lighting and high-end cabinets in your choice of color are standard kitchen features., "Property of the Week: Flanders Woods," 20 June 2019 The styles include regular lamp bulbs, spotlight bulbs for recessed ceiling canister lights, bathroom vanity globes and candle-style bulbs. Peter Marteka,, "Glastonbury TALK environmental committee to host sustainable living fest Saturday," 12 Sep. 2019 Inside, the two-bedroom, three-bathroom floor plan features hardwood floors, recessed lighting and a brick fireplace in the living room. Los Angeles Times, "Santa Monica home of late Rhino Records executive Gary Stewart sells for $1.71 million," 4 Sep. 2019 The largest bedroom is roughly 170 square feet, has two two-over-one windows, recessed lighting, a coffered ceiling, and a closet. Real Estate, "Home of the Week: The flooring in this 3-bedroom Cape is school chalkboards," 7 Sep. 2019 The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation voted to recess just minutes into its oversight hearing after Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration didn’t make some state officials available for testimony, citing its own ongoing investigation. Washington Post, "Lawmakers suspend inquiry into motor vehicle agency," 22 July 2019 The stem of the switch was still visible, recessed inside the small hole remaining in the instrument panel. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "How Neil and Buzz Almost Were Stranded on the Moon in 1969," 21 July 2019 Those students are sent out to recess two grades at a time, resulting in limited play space, Battaglia said. Lydia Gerike,, "Elementary schools in Bristol, Southington could win playground equipment in recycling competition," 26 June 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of recess


1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1809, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for recess


Latin recessus, from recedere to recede

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about recess

Statistics for recess

Last Updated

11 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for recess

The first known use of recess was in 1531

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for recess



English Language Learners Definition of recess

 (Entry 1 of 2)

US : a short period of time during the school day when children can play
: a usually brief period of time during which regular activity in a court of law or in a government stops
: a dark, hidden place or part



English Language Learners Definition of recess (Entry 2 of 2)

US : to stop regular activity in a court of law or in a government for a usually short period of time


re·​cess | \ ˈrē-ˌses How to pronounce recess (audio) , ri-ˈses\

Kids Definition of recess

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a brief period for relaxation between work periods The students play ball at recess.
2 : a secret or hidden place The droplets of water came from somewhere high up in the dark recesses of the roof …— Brian Jacques, Redwall
3 : a hollow cut or built into a surface (as a wall) The room has a recess lined with books.
4 : a brief time off from the activity of a court


recessed; recessing

Kids Definition of recess (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to put into a hollow space The light fixture was recessed into the ceiling.
2 : to interrupt for or take a brief time off


re·​cess | \ ˈrē-ˌses How to pronounce recess (audio) , ri-ˈ How to pronounce recess (audio) \

Medical Definition of recess

: an anatomical depression or cleft : fossa

Keep scrolling for more


re·​cess | \ ˈrē-ˌses, ri-ˈses How to pronounce recess (audio) \

Legal Definition of recess

: a temporary adjournment of a trial, hearing, or legislative session

Other Words from recess

recess verb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on recess

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with recess

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for recess

Spanish Central: Translation of recess

Nglish: Translation of recess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of recess for Arabic Speakers

Comments on recess

What made you want to look up recess? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


fear of the number 13

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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