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

Research has found recidivism rates are 43% lower for prisoners who takes classes while incarcerated. USA TODAY, "No girls, parties, cellphones: California's prison inmates are getting bachelor's degrees," 12 July 2019 Harford County is already below the national three-year recidivism rate, which is 48 percent, but sheriff’s officials believe these efforts can lower that number even more. Erika Butler,, "Harford sheriff announces THRIVE initiative to help reduce number of inmates returning to jail," 11 July 2019 The recidivism rate for Vocational Village graduates is 2%, compared to the state’s overall rate of 29%, according to MDOC. Angie Jackson, Detroit Free Press, "New program trains Michigan inmates for tree-trimming jobs after prison," 10 July 2019 According to the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau's report on Juvenile Justice and Youth Aids Programs, the three-year recidivism rate for 432 juveniles released in 2011 was 62.7%. Talis Shelbourne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Youth workers ramp up efforts to curb recidivism with resource training funded by ReCAST grant," 20 June 2019 Once established, researchers with the University of Texas at San Antonio will track outcomes — including recidivism rates — to evaluate the effectiveness of the drug court. Emilie Eaton,, "Another drug court in San Antonio will tackle problem of family violence," 17 June 2019 Some studies show offenders who undergo chemical castration have a lower recidivism rate than those without it. Leada Gore |,, "What is chemical castration? What to know about Alabama’s new sex offender law," 11 June 2019 Michelle Mason and Lauren Fine, both advocates for children charged with crimes, write that the city must stop holding juveniles in adult jails, which risks abuse, recidivism, and other untold harm. Aubrey Nagle,, "Schools buy war-zone trauma kits, Trump-Kim summit recap | Morning Newsletter," 12 June 2018 Photo: iStock/Getty Images This naive policy ignores the reality of recidivism. Tom Cotton, WSJ, "Reform the Prisons Without Going Soft on Crime," 15 Aug. 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

15 Jul 2019

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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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