re·cid·i·vism | \ri-ˈsi-də-ˌvi-zəm \

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

And Ray Sosa, Montgomery County banker/insurance broker, wants to cut the costs of prison recidivism by giving more opportunity to those who served time. John Baer,, "They're stacking up to take down Stack," 8 Jan. 2018 Bags to Butterflies is the only program in Detroit aimed at reducing recidivism among former female inmates, according to Smart, who said that information surprised her initially. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Prison to purses: Detroit program gives ex-female felons a 2nd chance," 12 July 2018 The program, which launched a year and a half ago, has not been around long enough to determine how the program affects recidivism, but the dramatic drop in violence and other incidents has them planning to expand, Mr. Semple said. David Jordan, The Christian Science Monitor, "Vermont rolls out a new idea to rehabilitate young offenders," 6 July 2018 Job training for young men is an important factor in fighting jail recidivism, jail officials said. William Lee,, "Cook County inmates call new jail recording studio 'a blessing'; officials hope it reduces recidivism," 24 June 2018 The administration justified the policy as an effort — at least partially successful — to discourage recidivism. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump’s Draconian Immigration Policies Highlight Obama’s Missteps," 20 June 2018 How far along is your next film, the documentary about prison and recidivism? Caryn James, WSJ, "A Return to the Spotlight for ‘Winter’s Bone’ Director," 20 June 2018 The repeat offense rate is about 19 percent — considered a success by people who study recidivism. Beth Kassab,, "This city in N.C. has reduced domestic violence. Why can't Orlando?," 14 June 2018 Hiring will be modest at first, with perhaps five or six ex-offenders who have relatively minor charges and have completed job training and anti-recidivism programs. Dan Adams,, "Former state public safety official to head pot company," 8 June 2018

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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Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for recidivism

The first known use of recidivism was in 1884

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re·cid·i·vism | \ri-ˈsid-ə-ˌviz-əm \

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 \

Legal Definition of recidivism 

: relapse into criminal behavior

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Spanish Central: Translation of recidivism Encyclopedia article about recidivism

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What made you want to look up recidivism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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