re·​cid·​i·​vism | \ ri-ˈsi-də-ˌvi-zəm How to pronounce recidivism (audio) \

Definition of recidivism

: a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior especially : relapse into criminal behavior

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Did You Know?

Recidivism means literally "a falling back" and usually implies "into bad habits." It comes from the Latin word recidivus, which means "recurring." "Recidivus" itself came from the Latin verb recidere, which is a composite of the prefix re- and the verb "cadere" (meaning "to fall") and means "to fall back." "Recidivists" tend to relapse, or "fall back," into old habits and particularly crime. "Deciduous" and "incident" are two other English words that have roots in "cadere." "Deciduous" comes from the verb "decidere" (de- plus cadere), which means "to fall off." And "incident" comes from "incidere" ("in" plus "cadere"), which means "to fall into."

Examples of recidivism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Now Harris is addressing those concerns with a new plan for criminal justice reform that would end mandatory minimum sentences, legalize marijuana, and fund reentry programs to reduce recidivism. Fortune, "Tina Turner Doesn’t Feel Like Part of the #MeToo Movement: Broadsheet," 10 Sep. 2019 Their goals include helping the fathers re-enter society successfully and reducing recidivism. NBC News, "The Definition of Resilient: Daughters Beyond Incarceration," 6 Sep. 2019 As district attorney in 2005, Harris launched an initiative to reduce recidivism among first time drug-trafficking defendants. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "Kamala Harris' Attorney General Record, Explained," 16 Aug. 2019 The idea that education can help reduce recidivism and give inmates a true second chance upon their release is the idea driving The Last Mile. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "Education Secretary Betsy DeVos touts 'second chances' for young Indiana inmates learning to code," 14 Aug. 2019 That modest decrease is almost entirely driven by Michigan’s 20% reduction in the prison population, which the report partially attributes to criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing recidivism. Time, "Fewer People Are in Prison in the U.S. — and Crime Rates Are Going Down Too, Study Shows," 8 Aug. 2019 Hodges also believed that education was one of the surest ways to reduce recidivism. Casey Parks, USA Today, "'You don't know what you did for me': Released from prison by Obama, now on the dean's list," 8 July 2019 The White House has embraced the program as part of its criminal justice agenda, which aims to stymie mass incarceration and reduce recidivism. Erica L. Green, New York Times, "A ‘Second Chance’ After 27 Years in Prison: How Criminal Justice Helped an Ex-Inmate Graduate," 8 July 2019 Several national studies of drug courts have found that the programs, which are more intense than traditional probation services, cut down on drug use, lower incarceration costs and reduce recidivism. Emilie Eaton,, "Another drug court in San Antonio will tackle problem of family violence," 17 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'recidivism.' 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 recidivism

1884, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for recidivism

Last Updated

4 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for recidivism

The first known use of recidivism was in 1884

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More Definitions for recidivism


re·​cid·​i·​vism | \ ri-ˈsid-ə-ˌviz-əm How to pronounce recidivism (audio) \

Medical Definition of recidivism

: a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior high recidivism rates after cessation of smoking— A. E. Kazdin et al


re·​cid·​i·​vism | \ ri-ˈsi-də-ˌvi-zəm How to pronounce recidivism (audio) \

Legal Definition of recidivism

: relapse into criminal behavior

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with recidivism

Spanish Central: Translation of recidivism Encyclopedia article about recidivism

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