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 talks Monday came hours before a vote in Parliament that is expected to be the last before the House of Commons goes into recess for over a month. Washington Post, "Ireland’s leader does Johnson no favors as the British prime minister seeks to unblock Brexit," 10 Sep. 2019 Labor officials used a four-week recess beginning in mid-July to consolidate opposition to any agreement watering down A.B. 5 for gig workers. New York Times, "California Labor Bill, Near Passage, Is Blow to Uber and Lyft," 9 Sep. 2019 Parliament returns Monday for a high-stakes final week before a lengthy recess begins, and with plenty of pressing matters on the docket. Rob Picheta, CNN, "Boris Johnson had a torrid week. Now he's fighting to take back control," 8 Sep. 2019 Following the August recess and Labor Day, City Council was set to reconvene Tuesday night. Thomas Jewell,, "Two Cleveland Heights housing inspectors now gone after ethics probe," 3 Sep. 2019 Usually, prorogations take place during spring, and the recess that follows can vary in length. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "The dramatic history of prorogation in British parliament," 29 Aug. 2019 Parliament is due to return on Sept. 3, and was only going to sit for two weeks before taking a three-week recess to allow MPs to go to their annual party conferences. Robert Hutton, Fortune, "Boris Johnson To Suspend Parliament Over Brexit Vote," 28 Aug. 2019 The mayor then calls for a recess and security clears the council chambers. The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Activist who smeared his own blood on wall of Portland City Hall gets 2 years of probation," 23 Aug. 2019 Gardner has traveled around much of the state during Congress’s annual August recess, but his schedule is not public, frustrating constituents who have sought out opportunities to confront him on issues such as immigration, guns and health care. Justin Wingerter, The Denver Post, "Nikki Haley warns of socialism as she rallies Republicans for Cory Gardner," 19 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The largest bedroom is roughly 170 square feet, has two two-over-one windows, recessed lighting, a coffered ceiling, and a closet. Real Estate, "Home of the Week: The flooring in this 3-bedroom Cape is school chalkboards," 7 Sep. 2019 The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation voted to recess just minutes into its oversight hearing after Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration didn’t make some state officials available for testimony, citing its own ongoing investigation. Washington Post, "Lawmakers suspend inquiry into motor vehicle agency," 22 July 2019 The stem of the switch was still visible, recessed inside the small hole remaining in the instrument panel. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "How Neil and Buzz Almost Were Stranded on the Moon in 1969," 21 July 2019 Those students are sent out to recess two grades at a time, resulting in limited play space, Battaglia said. Lydia Gerike,, "Elementary schools in Bristol, Southington could win playground equipment in recycling competition," 26 June 2019 The 1,894 square-foot three-bedroom, three-bath unit has many fixtures of a modern townhome: hardwood floors, recessed lighting and stainless-steel appliances. Pueng Vongs, The Mercury News, "Photos: Ex-49ers star Frank Gore selling Santa Clara townhouse," 31 July 2019 Following the nuptials, the couple (and their notable family and friends) all released the same photo of the duo recessing from their ceremony, photographed by BAZAAR Bride Top Photographer, Corbin Gurkin. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sophie Turner's Wedding Gown Took Over 350 Hours to Make," 8 July 2019 For years, Arizona parents have urged state lawmakers to step in to provide protections to recess time. Ricardo Cano, azcentral, "Two recess periods a day will be mandatory for Arizona's younger students next school year," 5 Apr. 2018 Talks were recessed until a later date, the state said Monday. Annie Zak, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska ferry workers have been on strike for a week. The effects continue to ripple throughout coastal Alaska.," 31 July 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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Statistics for recess

Last Updated

13 Sep 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).


recurring in steady succession

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