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

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of recess in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb 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 Democrats in the House return from recess next week, and are expected to vote on two additional war powers resolutions. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Esper warns of tough decisions in Pentagon budget due out next month," 28 Jan. 2020 Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the report will be forwarded to the Judiciary Committee shortly after Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess next week. John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, Anchorage Daily News, "House Judiciary Committee sets impeachment hearing for next week," 26 Nov. 2019 Each of these 12-week fetuses bears its own particular code: this one bound to be good at music; that one destined for a life of impatience, of tap, tap, tapping his pencil on the desk, waiting for recess. Alexandra Desanctis, National Review, "An Honest Abortion Debate," 14 Nov. 2019 Republicans are planning to force a vote on a censure resolution against Schiff when lawmakers return from a recess next week, though Democrats have the votes to defeat it. Tal Kopan,, "As Pelosi takes on Trump, longtime ally Adam Schiff leads the way," 10 Oct. 2019 The decision to block Mr. Sondland from being interviewed was delivered at the last minute, after the ambassador had already flown to Washington from Europe, and lawmakers had returned from a two-week recess to observe the questioning. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "White House Declares War on Impeachment Inquiry, Claiming Effort to Undo Trump’s Election," 8 Oct. 2019 Despite partisanship persistently boiling over on Capitol Hill, when Congress returned from summer recess in September, members hoped to tackle gun restrictions, escalating prescription drug prices, and a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Tovin Lapan, Fortune, "As Impeachment Inquiry Takes Off, Trade Deal, Other Bills Might Be Stalled," 4 Oct. 2019 Outraged by Johnson's approved five-week suspension of Parliament, lawmakers returned from summer recess and voted to take control of the parliamentary agenda. Tara John, CNN, "What just happened in British politics and what comes next?," 5 Sep. 2019 The White House guidance emphasized that students are permitted to read religious texts and pray during recess, organize prayer groups and express religious beliefs in schoolwork. Rebecca Ballhaus, WSJ, "White House Releases Updated Guidance on School Prayer," 16 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Monday’s testimony ended abruptly when Mann broke down crying and was inconsolable, even after recessing for a short break. Jeremy Barr, The Hollywood Reporter, "Key Accuser Challenges Harvey Weinstein's Lawyer: "Are You My Psychiatrist?"," 4 Feb. 2020 Honda designed a roomy interior that seats six passengers, with a minimalist color scheme and recessed lighting that give it a formal feel. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "GM’s Cruise reveals its driverless shuttle to replace the car," 22 Jan. 2020 Heard immediately recessed the proceeding to seek medical attention, and corrections and sheriff’s personnel took Burroughs out of the room, officials said. Kevin Rector,, "Man charged with assault after striking judge with water pitcher during sentencing, sheriff’s office says," 12 Dec. 2019 Guyger was booked into the Dallas County Jail for the night about 4:45 p.m. Testimony in the punishment phase of Guyger’s trial began after lunch and lasted all afternoon, before court recessed for the day. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, "Former Dallas officer convicted of murder for killing neighbor, faces up to 99 years in prison," 2 Oct. 2019 The were expected to recess in the evening and resume Thursday morning. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "Key sticking point: GM and UAW at odds over what will be made in America," 9 Oct. 2019 And now, 200 years later, vast swaths of the polar region have begun to melt and recess in the face of rising global temperatures. Brandon Presser, Harper's BAZAAR, "The 20 Best Places to Travel in 2020," 30 Dec. 2019 Democratic leaders have indicated the full House will debate and vote on the articles next week, with final approval likely falling Wednesday, just before Congress recesses for Christmas and New Year's. Arkansas Online, "Impeachment charges sent to House," 14 Dec. 2019 Inside the foyer, the signs are numerous: hardwood flooring refinished in a dark walnut stain, windows that look original but are new and insulated, fresh paint, and recessed lighting. John Ellement, Real Estate, "Home of the Week: The Marshall Act was passed the year this house was built. It doesn’t look it.," 31 Oct. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for recess

Time Traveler

The first known use of recess was in 1531

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Statistics for recess

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Recess.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for recess


How to pronounce recess (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for recess

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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