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 reciprocate (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 But the coaches wanted the players to reciprocate that vibe. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, "Wild hoping to tighten up after relying on Cam Talbot in win over Vegas," 2 Apr. 2021 Relationship-building goes both ways, and your clients are likely keen to reciprocate your efforts to get to know them better. Samantha Reynolds, Forbes, "Five Ways To Strengthen Your Client Relationships Eroded By The Pandemic," 15 Apr. 2021 Humans are predisposed to reciprocate social cues, so ignoring someone goes against our nature, Williams said. Daryl Austin, The Atlantic, "The Psychology of the Silent Treatment," 26 Mar. 2021 His refusal to reciprocate violates a basic tenet of hospitality. Washington Post, "Miss Manners: Part of our friend group only takes, never gives," 31 Mar. 2021 For Democrats to refuse to punish Democratic offenders because Republicans don’t reciprocate is like throwing out your smoke detectors because your neighbor doesn’t have any. Steve Chapman,, "Column: Democrats should disown Gov. Andrew Cuomo," 3 Mar. 2021 Pour your positive energy into those who will reciprocate. Tarot Astrologers,, "Daily horoscope for February 26, 2021," 26 Feb. 2021 Lennie, alas, did not reciprocate Danny's affections but is in love with Alexander, another of the ruinous yearnings that mark the novel. Katherine A. Powers Washington Post, Star Tribune, "Audiobooks: Tales of deception, suspense – and some history," 19 Feb. 2021 The city-state recently lifted restrictions on travelers from Taiwan, but Taiwan did not reciprocate. New York Times, "How Taiwan Plans to Stay (Mostly) Covid-Free," 2 Jan. 2021

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

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reciprocate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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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