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

In the recesses of its corporate mind, baseball might also be interested in reducing any possible liability exposure. Bob Ford,, "Baseball netting must increase as attention spans decrease | Bob Ford," 4 June 2019 In late May, the Justice Department urged the justices to speed up the process and decide before the court's summer recesses whether to take up the appeals. NBC News, "Supreme Court rejects Trump administration request to fast track DACA appeal," 3 June 2019 There, deep in the recesses of a priceless landmark, a designer—or a grande dame—can work in peace and summon the forces of the past. Erik Maza, Town & Country, "Exclusive: Tour Florence's Rarely Seen Palazzo Spini Feroni," 27 Feb. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

On the opposite side of the kitchen is a family room that features custom built-in cabinetry and recessed niche for a flat screen TV. Monica Lander, The Mercury News, "Sponsored: One of a Kind: A contemporary showplace with inviting ambience and divine updates," 4 June 2019 Despite its rapid construction, the house includes some thoughtful details like a wood paneled roof with built-in LED strips and recessed alcoves that create lovely little nooks for pieces of furniture. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Modern prefab house was constructed in a month," 28 Aug. 2018 Circular recessed lights dot the plywood ceiling inside the house and on the patio, which makes the backyard feel like an extension of the living room. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Modern home offers understated indoor-outdoor living," 26 Dec. 2018 Aside from those, the National Hurricane Center advises installing recessed plywood boards over windows, which provide more protection than merely affixing plywood boards that overlap the window frames. Fox News, "Hurricane Florence: How to prepare your home for the worst," 12 Sep. 2018 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

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

7 Jun 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).


a tendency to relapse

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