re·​cip·​ro·​cate | \ ri-ˈsi-prə-ˌkāt How to pronounce reciprocate (audio) \
reciprocated; reciprocating

Definition of reciprocate

transitive verb

1 : to give and take mutually
2 : to return in kind or degree reciprocate a compliment gracefully

intransitive verb

1 : to make a return for something we hope to reciprocate for your kindness
2 : to move forward and backward alternately a reciprocating valve

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Other Words from reciprocate

reciprocator \ ri-​ˈsi-​prə-​ˌkā-​tər How to pronounce reciprocate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for reciprocate


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reciprocate, retaliate, requite, return mean to give back usually in kind or in quantity. reciprocate implies a mutual or equivalent exchange or a paying back of what one has received. reciprocated their hospitality by inviting them for a visit retaliate usually implies a paying back of injury in exact kind, often vengefully. the enemy retaliated by executing their prisoners requite implies a paying back according to one's preference and often not equivalently. requited her love with cold indifference return implies a paying or giving back. returned their call return good for evil

Examples of reciprocate in a Sentence

Individuals who have received a dedication … are expected to reciprocate with a gift, perhaps placing a few folded notes of money into the hat when they give it back. — A. L. Kennedy, On Bullfighting, 1999 When he entered the room … Agnes was conscious of a latent feeling which secretly reciprocated Henry's unconcealed pleasure on meeting her again. — Wilkie Collins, The Haunted Hotel, 1878 Thus expressing himself, the little lawyer gave Mr. Winkle a poke in the chest, which that gentleman reciprocated; after which they both laughed very loudly … — Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1837 They appreciated her kindness but were not ready to reciprocate the gesture. reciprocated the favor by driving their neighbor to the airport
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Recent Examples on the Web More research is needed to rule out all the possibilities that could explain why the dogs didn’t reciprocate with food, says Angie Johnston, a psychology researcher at Boston College who didn’t participate in the research. Shi En Kim, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 July 2021 Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang did indeed say that voters should consider ranking him first and another possible contender, New York Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, second—but Garcia didn’t reciprocate. Adam Rogers, Wired, 22 June 2021 However, while Yang backed her as his No. 2, Garcia didn't reciprocate. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, 23 June 2021 Even the ones who fail to reciprocate. Miss Manners thinks of a friend who gave an annual New Year’s Eve ball, but planned to be out of town one year and therefore issued no invitations. Washington Post, 21 June 2021 Some diplomats in Brussels were wary of allowing Americans to return before the U.S. agreed to reciprocate. Nikos Chrysoloras, Fortune, 18 June 2021 Some diplomats in Brussels were wary of allowing Americans to return before the U.S. agreed to reciprocate. Nikos Chrysoloras And Siddharth Philip / Bloomberg, Time, 18 June 2021 In other words, just because an item is treated as legal tender in one jurisdiction does not mean other jurisdictions have to reciprocate. Sean Stein Smith, Forbes, 8 June 2021 States are bound to reciprocate any penalty issued by another jurisdiction. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, 4 June 2021

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

1607, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for reciprocate

see reciprocal entry 1

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Time Traveler for reciprocate

Time Traveler

The first known use of reciprocate was in 1607

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Dictionary Entries Near reciprocate

reciprocal wills


reciprocating conveyor

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Statistics for reciprocate

Last Updated

24 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reciprocate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for reciprocate



English Language Learners Definition of reciprocate

: to do (something) for or to someone who has done something similar for or to you
: to have (a feeling) for someone who has the same feeling for you
technical : to move back and forth again and again

More from Merriam-Webster on reciprocate

Nglish: Translation of reciprocate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of reciprocate for Arabic Speakers


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