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 reciprocator (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for reciprocate


recompense, repay, requite

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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

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

After years of giving too much when it wasn’t reciprocated and bickering with men who were only situationships at best, my energy can only tolerate peace, whether that means a nice date or a lifetime with someone. Patrice J. Williams, Essence, "Black Travel Stories: Tinder Sent Me Across the Country to Find Love," 11 June 2019 The cast, which includes Regina King and Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry, is family to her now, and the affection is reciprocated. Tyler Mitchell, Vogue, "Meet Kiki Layne and Stephan James, the Breakout Stars of If Beale Street Could Talk," 11 Dec. 2018 China has reciprocated with tariffs of its own, among other measures. Washington Post, "Asian stocks trail US rise on US-Mexico trade deal optimism," 7 June 2019 But Blanchett didn’t exactly reciprocate his feelings. Grace Gavilanes,, "Orlando Bloom Had 'The Biggest Crush' On Cate Blanchett, Plus More Missed Celeb Love Connections," 19 June 2018 To justify the suspension of the drills, the United States will need to coax North Korea to reciprocate with significant steps that push the nuclear disarmament process firmly forward, Yeol Soo Kim said. Washington Post, "Halting S.Korea-US drills risks weakening N.Korea deterrence," 19 June 2018 Could this mean Frank might finally be reciprocating feelings for Kelly? Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "'Blue Bloods' Star Tom Selleck Confirms If Frank Reagan Will Date a Woman From His Past," 8 Feb. 2019 For the most part, Mr. Trump has reciprocated the affection, at times hailing the N.R.A.’s top two officials, Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, by name in his stump speeches. Alexander Burns, New York Times, "Renewing Bond With the N.R.A., Trump Appeals for Help in the Midterms," 4 May 2018 And Zan reciprocates Enn's fascination enough to abandon her alien colony for 24 hours under the pretext of conducting scientific research. Justin Chang,, "Punk-rock alien-invasion comedy 'How to Talk to Girls at Parties' doesn't have much to say," 24 May 2018

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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Statistics for reciprocate

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for reciprocate

The first known use of reciprocate was in 1607

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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

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Comments on reciprocate

What made you want to look up reciprocate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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