re·​cip·​ro·​cate | \ri-ˈsi-prə-ˌkāt \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from reciprocate

reciprocator \ ri-​ˈsi-​prə-​ˌkā-​tər \ noun

Synonyms for reciprocate


recompense, repay, requite

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Maurice's unstoppable caress of Clive, who's seated beneath his chair, is reciprocated with an upstretched hand that promises more than upper-class English society in the early part of the 20th century can accommodate. Charles Mcnulty,, "Why 'Three Billboards' and 'Call Me by Your Name' leave this theater critic cold," 1 Mar. 2018 But this loyalty wasn't reciprocated in the long term. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "Omarosa claims she tried to bring some stability to the White House. Here's why we are skeptical.," 8 Feb. 2018 The two shared a clear bond over horses: the Queen took him on a ride through the Windsor Castle grounds, and Reagan later reciprocated with a trip to his ranch in Santa Barbara. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "A Look Back at All of Queen Elizabeth's Presidential Meetings," 13 July 2018 The two have since become pen pals, with Bacque sending words of encouragement after Messenger pitches, and Messenger reciprocating with care packages of Hanshin goods and Japanese treats. New York Times, "A 50-Year-Old Japanese Baseball Record Unites Two American Pitchers," 3 July 2018 Ibrahimovic's Sweden and Beckham's England are going head-to-head Saturday, and the former extended a wager for the latter via Instagram–which was reciprocated in kind. Avi Creditor,, "David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic Put Wager on Sweden-England World Cup Match," 6 July 2018 For its part, China’s leadership sees benefits in reciprocating Tokyo’s outreach. Peter Landers, WSJ, "Strange Bedfellows: Trump Trade Fight Brings Japan and China Together," 18 June 2018 Humans and other primates often reciprocate good deeds. Christopher Intagliata, Scientific American, "Mongooses Gift Grooming for Guard Duty," 1 June 2018 Developing countries did not have to reciprocate the cuts in manufacturing tariffs that America and the European powers negotiated with each other in successive rounds of post-war trade talks. The Economist, "Donald Trump insists on trade reciprocity. But what kind?," 12 July 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.

See More

First Known Use of reciprocate

1607, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for reciprocate

see reciprocal entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about reciprocate

Share reciprocate

Listen to Our Podcast about reciprocate

Statistics for reciprocate

Last Updated

28 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reciprocate

The first known use of reciprocate was in 1607

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

: to move back and forth again and again

Keep scrolling for more

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).


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!