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

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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

The answer varies depending on a child's school — the week of or after Good Friday is a popular time to have spring recess. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "A Full List of Everything That's Open on Good Friday," 6 Mar. 2019 Dealing with overcrowding, the ability to have recess in a facility that’s not got broken concrete, being able to meet our needs not only physically but educationally and then emotionally, and then make those investments in our kids. John Byrne,, "Emanuel wants to build new Near West Side high school, according to budget plan," 6 July 2018 California's Senate already approved an earlier version of the bill in May. But some minor changes were made in the Assembly, so the Senate must vote on the bill again today before going into recess. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "“Gold standard” state net neutrality bill approved by California Assembly," 31 Aug. 2018 Firefighters placed ladders into the recess and used a hoist to pull the man up to ground level. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, "Man falls in 10-foot-deep recess at White House complex," 15 June 2018 After the House went into recess, Clodfelter met with Mesnard in his office. Dustin Gardiner, azcentral, "Lawmaker: Don Shooter sex-harassment files may implicate other lawmakers, should be public," 26 Mar. 2018 Friday’s drama capped a weekslong back-and-forth as Mr. Trump sought to fulfill a core campaign pledge to build a border wall just as the shutdown possibility threatened to keep lawmakers from leaving for their year-end recess. Kristina Peterson, WSJ, "U.S. Government Shuts Down Over Border Wall Funding," 22 Dec. 2018 The repeal legislation would not be taken up until the fall, after the council returns from its summer recess. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Kavanaugh’s paper trail makes his confirmation harder but ensures he’ll be reliably conservative," 10 July 2018 The boys and girls of the United States Senate have been very bad this year, and to teach them a lesson, Senate Majority Leader and Party Pooper in Chief Mitch McConnell is taking away three weeks of their August recess. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Bad Little Senators Get Recess Canceled," 5 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Projection cameras recessed into the ceiling create pin spotlights to illuminate the Sullivans’ art collection. Joan Walden,, "Property of the Week: 1093 Prospect Avenue, West Hartford," 5 Jan. 2018 Finally, the Kindle Paperwhite’s display is flush with the front of the device, while the All-new Kindle’s display is slightly recessed from the bezels. Melissa Riofrio, PCWorld, "Amazon's All-new Kindle for $89.99 is priced for budget users," 20 Mar. 2019 When Strzok declined to answer some questions on the Russia probe, Goodlatte suggested Republicans might recess the hearing and hold him in contempt. Ben Finley, The Seattle Times, "Congressman’s son rips him for ‘ruining’ FBI agent’s career," 13 Aug. 2018 On Wednesday, multiple UK lawmakers, including opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, urged May to recall Parliament -- which is currently recessed for Easter -- to hold a vote before taking any action. Kevin Liptak, CNN, "Britain's May calls Cabinet meeting as UK and US edge closer to Syria strikes," 12 Apr. 2018 Also crucial is a sense of space: Ms. Thorvaldsdottir often plays with distance, creating dialogues between close and recessed instrumental lines. Allan Kozinn, WSJ, "‘Aequa’ by the International Contemporary Ensemble, ‘He(a)r’ by Nordic Affect and ‘Collider’ by Daníel Bjarnason Reviews," 18 Dec. 2018 The second-floor landing has hardwood floors showcases archways, custom millwork, white wainscoting, recessed lighting and deep crown molding. Lisa Zapalac, Houston Chronicle, "Bellaire showcase home is open today, May 27," 27 May 2018 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

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

12 Apr 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)

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

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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

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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

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).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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