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

Other Words from reciprocate

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

Synonyms for reciprocate


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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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Reciprocate implies a mutual or equivalent exchange or a paying back of what one has received (as in "We appreciate you hosting us and we will reciprocate you for your kindness"). The word comes from Latin reciprocus, meaning "returning the same way."

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
Recent Examples on the Web Rhaenyra herself seems to reciprocate and pursue Daemon. Josh St. Clair, Men's Health, 12 Sep. 2022 By appealing to our innate tendency to reciprocate, a business can inspire us to make our first purchase. Tomas Oscar Andrén, Forbes, 25 July 2022 Orbán proudly describes himself as antiliberal and cultivates ties with like-minded conservatives throughout the Western world, especially in the United States, who reciprocate with fawning coverage. Damon Linker, The Week, 5 Apr. 2022 One of the central arguments against adding seats to the court is that if one party elects to enlarge the body, the other will reciprocate when necessary to achieve a political end, said Tribe. Shannon Larson,, 5 July 2022 This positive message will mean that employees are more likely to reciprocate this support back to the organization. Benjamin Laker, Forbes, 19 May 2022 The way to show appreciation for private hospitality is to reciprocate. Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2022 Conover was interested right away, but Olindo didn't reciprocate his feelings. Tamara Palmer,, 22 June 2022 Miss Manners considers this important, because there are still people (mentioning no particular professions) who feel that their rank requires them to be formally addressed, but not obligated to reciprocate the courtesy. Washington Post, 14 June 2021 See More

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.

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

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Reciprocate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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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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