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

There’s limited data on the long term benefits of restorative justice, but initial studies suggest participant satisfaction and a lower recidivism rate. Isobel Yeung, Glamour, "For Some Sexual Assault Survivors, Justice Looks Like a Sit-Down With Their Assailant," 16 Oct. 2018 For Miller, the three greatest safety issues the office faces are recidivism of criminal conduct, the proliferation of crimes involving firearms and the failure to provide a support system for individuals convicted of felonies. Emily Sorensen, Pomerado News, "Four challengers face incumbent judge in Superior Court office No. 37 primary race," 30 May 2018 The algorithm is no more accurate at predicting recidivism than guesses made by people with little or no criminal justice background. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Data Sheet—Trump Deserves 'Fair Share' of Credit for Apple Moves," 18 Jan. 2018 Apple said 6 percent of the roughly 331 participating veterans in Albany over the years have returned to jail, far better than the typical jail recidivism rates of more than 40 percent. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Jails increasingly set aside cellblocks for veterans," 10 Jan. 2018 Runcie has touted its high success rate in preventing recidivism in the past. Teen Vogue, "The Parkland Shooter Never Completed a Disciplinary Program He Was Assigned To," 8 May 2018 Alsobrooks worked with Harris to implement a program to reduce recidivism in Prince George’s after Harris launched the initiative in California. Rachel Chason, Washington Post, "Sen. Kamala D. Harris backs Angela Alsobrooks in Pr. George’s executive race," 16 Apr. 2018 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

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

2 Dec 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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