verb re·cip·ro·cate \ ri-ˈsi-prə-ˌkāt \
|Updated on: 22 Jul 2018

Definition of reciprocate

reciprocated; reciprocating
1 : to give and take mutually
2 : to return in kind or degree
  • reciprocate a compliment gracefully
1 : to make a return for something
  • we hope to reciprocate for your kindness
2 : to move forward and backward alternately
  • a reciprocating valve


play \ri-ˈsi-prə-ˌkā-tər\ noun

reciprocate was our Word of the Day on 04/17/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of reciprocate in a Sentence

  1. 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. KennedyOn Bullfighting1999
  2. When he entered the room … Agnes was conscious of a latent feeling which secretly reciprocated Henry's unconcealed pleasure on meeting her again. —Wilkie CollinsThe Haunted Hotel1878
  3. 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 DickensThe Pickwick Papers1837
  4. They appreciated her kindness but were not ready to reciprocate the gesture.

  5. reciprocated the favor by driving their neighbor to the airport

Recent Examples of reciprocate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of reciprocate

Synonym Discussion of reciprocate

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

RECIPROCATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of reciprocate for English Language Learners

  • : 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

  • : to move back and forth again and again

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having an air of easy unconcern

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