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

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 But at first, no Minnesota players were willing to reciprocate their struggles. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Gophers football players take ‘mask off’ and open up about mental health," 13 Sep. 2019 Pyongyang insisted that the U.S. should reciprocate to the North's suspension of missile launches and nuclear tests and other goodwill gestures such as the return of remains of American troops killed in the Korean War. Youkyung Lee, Fox News, "Seoul: Rival Koreas to meet to prepare for leaders' summit," 9 Aug. 2018 Everton were persistent to a fault in their pursuit of Silva, and rumour around the Hertfordshire club was that the Portuguese reciprocated their interest., "Why Everton Will Be Marco Silva's Last Chance at Premier League Success After Ugly Watford Split," 17 May 2018 African leaders have reciprocated this blossoming engagement, with twice as many presidents attending China’s Africa summit in 2018 than attended the United Nations general assembly in New York. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "Inside China’s growing presence in Africa," 29 Aug. 2019 Instead, Worley has reciprocated with failures of her own. al, "Hey DNC, Alabama Democrats need an intervention," 16 Aug. 2019 The New Zealand defender does it to reciprocate appreciation from fans who have supported the club through two bad seasons. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Minnesota United advances to U.S. Open Cup final with 2-1 win over Portland," 7 Aug. 2019

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

14 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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