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

That means more measures are needed to reduce the prison population, such as sentencing reforms or reduced recidivism. Mike Cason |, al, "Alabama prison study group to turn to sentence reforms next," 5 Sep. 2019 Carl Fields, a member of the Racine Interfaith Coalition and EXPO described the current law as one of diminishing returns, because ex-offenders' chances of recidivism decline with time. Talis Shelbourne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Unlock the Vote campaign seeks to restore ex-offenders' voting rights," 5 Sep. 2019 Prison officials say about 5 million children in the United States have a parent in prison, and research shows fostering better relationships can lower recidivism. USA TODAY, "Record grapefruit, light rail win, Snake Road: News from around our 50 states," 29 Aug. 2019 Three-quarters of state pot revenue is intended to be used for recidivism programs and a marijuana education and treatment fund. Becky Bohrer, Anchorage Daily News, "As marijuana prices tumble, Alaska’s licensed growers worry about taxes," 28 Aug. 2019 O’Rourke had planned to take a tour led by inmates and meet with some prisoners who were close to finishing their sentences to discussing ways to improve the ‘‘re-entry’’ process into society and to combat recidivism. Will Weissert,, "Beto O’Rourke cancels campaign stops, returns to hometown after El Paso shooting," 3 Aug. 2019 But programs like Hair Design are known to decrease recidivism and divert the cycle of incarceration., "Makeup in Lockup: Beauty, Power, & Danger in Women's Prisons," 2 June 2018 Michelle Smart of Bags To Butterflies, L3C — a company aimed at reducing female recidivism with employment and training opportunities — in Oak Park. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Women entrepreneurs compete for cash in 'Shark Tank'-style competition," 6 Feb. 2018 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

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

9 Sep 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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