re·​cess | \ ˈrē-ˌses, 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

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Synonyms for recess

Synonyms: Noun

alcove, niche, nook

Synonyms: Verb

adjourn, prorogate, prorogue, suspend

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

With the council about to break for a summer recess, the repeal legislation will not advance until the fall. Peter Jamison, Washington Post, "Majority of D.C. Council moves to overturn tipped-wage ballot measure," 10 July 2018 The House failure gives lawmakers few options, and little time, to intervene before Congress adjourns Thursday for the July 4 recess. Sarah D. Wire,, "Republican-drafted immigration bill fails in the House as Congress prepares for holiday break," 27 June 2018 Congress is set to leave by Friday for a week-long July 4 holiday recess. Anna Edgerton,, "GOP Immigration Bill to Leave Out Conservative Demands, Source Says," 26 June 2018 The ads will run in the lawmakers Congressional districts beginning Memorial Day Weekend and through the week while members are home for the week-long recess. Andrew Rafferty, NBC News, "Jeff Flake 2020?," 27 May 2018 Bush Alumnus Bolton served as undersecretary of state for arms control under Bush, and went to the UN as a recess appointment because the administration couldn’t overcome bipartisan opposition in the Senate to his nomination. Fortune, "President Trump Swaps National Security Adviser, Trading McMaster for Bolton," 23 Mar. 2018 Colin Gillespie, an interventional pulmonologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said the justice would likely be able to return to work not long after the holiday recess. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "Justice Ginsburg Has Cancerous Growths Removed From Lung," 21 Dec. 2018 What was your favorite recess activity in Colorado? Fox News, "Trump lashes out at media in fiery attack," 30 Aug. 2018 Goodlatte eventually let the hearing proceed without calling the panel into recess. Eric Tucker And Mary Clare Jalonick,, "‘Another victory notch in Putin’s belt’: Embattled FBI agent criticizes GOP at hearing," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Senate will now recess for one week in August instead of four, McConnell said. Washington Post,, "Senate leader cancels most of August recess, forcing campaign schedule scramble," 5 June 2018 Just past the entry is a open staircase, which overlooks the formal dining room with select white oak floors, a chrome chandelier with Edison bulbs, LED recessed lighting and wired for surround sound. Lisa Zapalac, Houston Chronicle, "April 29 open house: Contemporary new construction offered in Montrose," 29 Apr. 2018 The top screen sits just above it and is recessed into the dashboard. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "Love the hardware, hate the UI: The Acura MDX Sport Hybrid," 13 Dec. 2018 Love our client’s integrated fireplace with recessed TV! Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Designers Reveal Why They Are Going Crazy Over Linear Fireplaces," 11 Dec. 2018 Reminiscent of a giant circular conversation pit, the main area of the room is recessed several steps below the entrance level and features a stage-like wooden platform. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Bruce Goff-designed round house asks $179K," 27 Sep. 2018 These are all at least spaced apart well enough to accommodate imprecise taps, but they're recessed enough to feel designed less for accessibility and more for durability. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Xbox Adaptive Controller is now out—and we go hand, foot, fingers, and elbows-on," 6 Sep. 2018 The kitchen sink is set into the island, while the six-burner Wolf stove is recessed into the east wall, framed by New England six-inch fieldstone. Joan Walden,, "Property of the Week: 485 Deercliff Road, Avon," 20 Oct. 2017 Congress is scheduled to recess after Thursday for a July 4 holiday that will extend through next week. Eliza Fawcett,, "Judge's ruling on migrant children in custody gives families few answers," 28 June 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for recess

Last Updated

18 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for recess

The first known use of recess was in 1531

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More Definitions for recess



English Language Learners Definition of recess

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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)

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


re·​cess | \ ˈrē-ˌses, 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, ri-ˈ \

Medical Definition of recess

: an anatomical depression or cleft : fossa

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re·​cess | \ ˈrē-ˌses, ri-ˈses \

Legal Definition of recess

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

Other Words from recess

recess verb

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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

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