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


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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 The storyline ends in heartbreak — Ethan has got back together with his ex-boyfriend and doesn’t reciprocate Jack’s feelings — but history was made nonetheless. NBC News, "Two decades later, 'Dawson's Creek' actor reflects on historic gay kiss," 18 Oct. 2019 In that sense, what reads mostly as a favorable portrait of the Obama-Biden bond ends with some question about just how much Biden’s contributions to it were reciprocated. Mike Memoli, Washington Post, "Political partners, personal friends: Inside the Obama-Biden bond," 4 Oct. 2019 Your niece will no doubt reciprocate at some point, if not by paying for a family meal out, or sharing in the groceries, then by making herself charming and useful. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, "Miss Manners: I invited this girl, and now I’m wondering where she’ll sleep," 4 Sep. 2019 Senator Mitch McConnell would later reciprocate by announcing that the defeat of President Obama in 2012 was his No. 1 priority. Barney Frank, Time, "We Need Bipartisanship to Fix the Economy. That Seems Impossible Right Now," 22 Aug. 2019 Unfortunately for Johnson, this love is not always reciprocated. Luke Mcgee, CNN, "Boris Johnson could be the last prime minister of the United Kingdom," 3 Aug. 2019 Before the Seminoles’ practice at Creighton University on Sunday afternoon, Martin reciprocated the praise to Bakich. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's Erik Bakich must go through coaching idol to advance at CWS," 16 June 2019 Ghani, who is up for a second term, has not reciprocated. Washington Post, "Taliban attacks second Afghan city as U.S. negotiator says peace deal is near," 2 Sep. 2019 So far, the U.S. has put tariffs on $50 billion in goods, and China has reciprocated. Paul Kiernan, WSJ, "At Fed’s Jackson Hole Retreat, Central Bankers Eye New Economic Risks," 26 Aug. 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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Time Traveler for reciprocate

Time Traveler

The first known use of reciprocate was in 1607

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Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Reciprocate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for reciprocate


How to pronounce reciprocate (audio)

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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