re·​cid·​i·​vate ri-ˈsi-də-ˌvāt How to pronounce recidivate (audio)
recidivated; recidivating; recidivates

intransitive verb

: to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior and especially delinquency or criminal activity : to exhibit recidivism
There are three things that exponentially decrease the likelihood that an offender will recidivate. Offenders who obtain a diploma or GED certificate, obtain a job skill and maintain gainful employment are far more likely to break out of this dreaded cycle.Christopher Bowman

Word History


borrowed from Medieval Latin recidīvātus, past participle of recidīvāre "to relapse into sin or crime," verbal derivative of Latin recidīvus "recurring, relapsing," from recidere "to fall back, sink back, relapse" (from re- re- + cadere "to fall") + -īvus -ive — more at chance entry 1

First Known Use

1528, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of recidivate was in 1528

Dictionary Entries Near recidivate

Cite this Entry

“Recidivate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Legal Definition


intransitive verb
recidivated; recidivating
: to return to criminal activity

Medieval Latin recidivatus, past participle of recidivare to fall back, relapse, from Latin recidivus falling back, recurring

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