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

The friends, led by T.J., try to enjoy their time during recess while adhering to the rules of King Bob and others who rank above them in the school’s hierarchy. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "25 Amazing Disney Channel Shows That You Need to Binge ASAP," 8 Aug. 2018 The heat continued when House and Senate members returned to their home districts for a two-week recess that ends Sunday. Joseph Weber, Fox News, "Trump, McCarthy considering cuts to already passed budget to calm conservative backlash," 4 Apr. 2018 Congress has until Friday at midnight to pass the spending package ahead of a two-week recess for Easter and Passover. NBC News, "Lawmakers near deal on $1.3 trillion spending bill," 21 Mar. 2018 One that probably ended a little differently than your recess games did. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "4 Clues That Prove Chic Is Actually Still Alive On "Riverdale"," 4 Oct. 2018 McConnell cut the Senate’s August recess, instead scheduling the body to remain in session through much of October. Lewis Kamb, The Seattle Times, "Sen. Maria Cantwell, challenger Susan Hutchison at odds over when to debate," 25 Sep. 2018 After hearing the news about missing girls in her neighborhood, Aziya voluntarily skipped recess and hunkered down indoors to organize the march during the last days of the school year. Sydney Greene, Teen Vogue, "Chicago's Missing Black Women and Girls Prompted Aziya Roberts to Start Organizing," 27 July 2018 Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long and Torrey Smith lobbied in its support and pushed for the final bill to go to a vote before the summer recess. Jenny Vrentas,, "For Many NFL Players, Summer Doesn't Bring Much of a Break," 9 July 2018 Last month, a group of black people wrote to the House and Senate Judiciary committees asking for a hearing on racial profiling before the August recess, The Washington Post’s Cleve R. Wootson Jr. reported. Kristine Phillips,, "A black lawmaker was campaigning door to door in her district. A constituent called 911.," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Nokian's latest Hakkapeliitta 9 tire includes a pocket behind the stud, giving the metal a place to recess when impacting the road surface. Jordan Golson, Ars Technica, "Winter tires 101: “An all-season is only an all-season if you live in Phoenix”," 20 Mar. 2018 The oak floors, white molding and recessed ceiling lights provide a sense of continuity from the kitchen to the dining and living areas. Mary Murphy,, "Property of the Week: Essex Glen," 6 June 2018 That building is 288 Pacific Ave., where residents last month began moving into 33 units contained within an overscaled grid of brickwork and recessed metal. John King,, "Well-crafted Jackson Square condos rich in design inspiration," 2 July 2018 Design changes allowed relief from a requirement for recessed front entry garages and some material changes at outside corners. Karen Huppertz, ajc, "Sugar Hill approves design for duplex on First Avenue," 20 June 2018 Lots of interesting light fixtures are woven into the homescape: a black chain-link pendant over the dining table; a rectangular chandelier over the kitchen island; contemporary table lamps; and LED recessed lights. Catherine Laughlin,, "Rowhouse redesigned to complement Brewerytown Garden mural," 2 May 2018 In the case of Costigan-Wagner, the Southern bloc delayed until its opponents, who were eager to pass other legislation, recessed in April 1935. Vanessa Gregory, New York Times, "A Lynching’s Long Shadow," 25 Apr. 2018 But the judge recessed for five minutes anyway, as Venckiene drank water and dabbed her face with a tissue. Washington Post, "US judge refuses to halt extradition of Lithuanian ex-judge," 12 July 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

6 Dec 2018

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

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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