re·​cip·​ro·​cate ri-ˈsi-prə-ˌkāt How to pronounce reciprocate (audio)
reciprocated; reciprocating

transitive verb

: to give and take mutually
: to return in kind or degree
reciprocate a compliment gracefully

intransitive verb

: to make a return for something
we hope to reciprocate for your kindness
: to move forward and backward alternately
a reciprocating valve
reciprocator noun

Did you know?

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."

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
Recent Examples on the Web Moreover, even if a more Western-friendly candidate takes power, a shift in Iran’s foreign relations is not guaranteed, as goodwill gestures toward the West may not be reciprocated. Joseph Ataman, CNN, 28 June 2024 This negates the theory that caregiving emerged merely as a self-interested pact between participants who could reciprocate the behavior and that Neanderthals were capable of displaying altruism, the researchers said. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 26 June 2024 Around 150 guests are invited in light of their cultural, diplomatic or economic ties to the country being hosted, and the monarch makes a speech and offers a toast to the visiting head of state, who reciprocates the gesture. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 25 June 2024 Also on Sunday, Ukrainian authorities reciprocated with accusations of terrorism against civilians, reporting the latest deadly Russian strike on the border city of Kharkiv. Yuliya Talmazan, NBC News, 24 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for reciprocate 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'reciprocate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see reciprocal entry 1

First Known Use

1607, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of reciprocate was in 1607


Dictionary Entries Near reciprocate

Cite this Entry

“Reciprocate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


re·​cip·​ro·​cate ri-ˈsip-rə-ˌkāt How to pronounce reciprocate (audio)
reciprocated; reciprocating
: to give and take mutually : exchange
: to make a return for something
reciprocate a favor

More from Merriam-Webster on reciprocate

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