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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for recess

Synonyms: Noun

cavity, concavity, dent, depression, dint, hole, hollow, indentation, indenture, pit

Synonyms: Verb

adjourn, prorogue, suspend

Antonyms: Noun

bulge, convexity, jut, projection, protrusion, protuberance

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As the court went into a brief recess, the defendant gently rocked back and forth, looking at her attorney, Mike McCrum, who had his left arm on her shoulders, comforting her. Bruce Selcraig, San Antonio Express-News, "Courtroom emotions high after jurors convict S.A. mom of murder," 7 June 2018 After the vote, the City Council went into recess as protesters in favor of keeping the resolution began singing at a volume level that made the council unable to continue to conduct business. Kevin Litten,, "Singing stops New Orleans City Council meeting after 'anti-Israel' resolution is rescinded," 25 Jan. 2018 The Council is planning to hold a hearing on the repeal of Initiative 77 when lawmakers return from summer recess. Fenit Nirappil, Washington Post, "Republicans in Congress and D.C. Democrats agree: Overturn voters on hourly wage hike," 11 July 2018 The new text of the bill won't be released until August 6 because the legislature is heading into a month-long recess, Wiener said. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Net neutrality makes comeback in California; lawmakers agree to strict rules," 5 July 2018 In addition to potential weekend sessions and truncating the August recess, the senators floated an interesting idea for handling regular fiscal 2019 spending bills ahead of August. Tribune News Service,, "Bill Cassidy, John Kennedy join GOP colleagues urging Senate to skip August recess," 15 May 2018 McConnell has promised that a final vote to confirm Kennedy’s successor will occur in the fall, and after canceling most of the summer recess, the Senate will return Aug. 13. Rob Tornoe,, "Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court," 9 July 2018 Lawmakers will leave for a 10-day Fourth of July recess, taking no action amid an uproar over the separation policy and images of migrant children held in chain-link detention pens. Devlin Barrett, Mike Debonis, Washington Post, "Congress, courts stymie Trump border crackdown," 27 June 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, Anchorage Daily News, "A black lawmaker was campaigning door to door in her district. A constituent called 911.," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Switching out your old light bulbs for new LEDs, especially recessed lighting, kitchen fixtures and lights operated more than two hours per day, is a really easy way to make your home more energy efficient. Tracy Maness, Houston Chronicle, "Reliant Energy offers tips for saving on energy costs," 1 June 2018 The court recessed, and when Reid came before the judge again, the assistant state’s attorney then asked to dismiss the charge. Genevieve Bookwalter,, "Traffic charge dismissed, driver's license reinstated for Evanston city clerk," 15 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about recess

Statistics for recess

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for recess

The first known use of recess was in 1531

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more


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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


evasion of direct action or statement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!