rec·​i·​proc·​i·​ty | \ ˌre-sə-ˈprä-s(ə-)tē How to pronounce reciprocity (audio) \
plural reciprocities

Essential Meaning of reciprocity

formal : a situation or relationship in which two people or groups agree to do something similar for each other, to allow each other to have the same rights, etc. : a reciprocal arrangement or relationship The proposal calls for reciprocity in trade relations.

Full Definition of reciprocity

1 : the quality or state of being reciprocal : mutual dependence, action, or influence
2 : a mutual exchange of privileges specifically : a recognition by one of two countries or institutions of the validity of licenses or privileges granted by the other

Frequently Asked Questions About reciprocity

What is the difference between reciprocity and endorsement?

Each of these words has multiple meanings, some of which are similar, and others of which are not. Reciprocity may mean "a mutual exchange of privileges" and is often applied to things such as professional certification (neighboring states may have a reciprocal agreement so that certification a worker needs is applicable in each). Endorsement may mean "sanction, approval" or simply refer to "the act or process of endorsing."

Can reciprocity be mutual?

Reciprocal and mutual share a good deal of meaning; the former may be defined as "shared, felt, or shown by both sides," and the latter as "shared in common." Based on this semantic overlap some usage guides caution against using any form of the two words (mutually reciprocal, or mutual reciprocity) together, on the grounds that it is redundant.

Is reciprocity a noun or verb?

Reciprocity is a noun. The verb form of the word is reciprocate; the adjective is reciprocal, and the adverb is reciprocally.

Examples of reciprocity in a Sentence

Grownups know that little things matter … and that relationships are based on respect and reciprocity. — Margaret Carlson, Time, 4 June 2001 Introduced in the McKinley Tariff of 1890, reciprocity gave the president authority to remove items from the free list if their countries of origin placed unreasonable tariffs on American goods. — Mary Beth Norton et al., A People and a Nation, 1988 Indeed when they talked on an indifferent subject, as now, there was ever a second silent conversation passing between their emotions, so perfect was the reciprocity between them. — Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure, 1895 The proposal calls for reciprocity in trade relations.
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Recent Examples on the Web The Biden administration has said that talks must proceed on the basis of reciprocity and that the president plans to bring up concerns that Washington has about Russia’s activities in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe. Washington Post, 30 Dec. 2021 That consulate remains shuttered, as does the American consulate in Chengdu, which China ordered closed in reciprocity. Jennifer Conrad, Wired, 30 Dec. 2021 And this is well documented in different academic sources, of traditional leaders in Lagos approaching colonial governors and asking for some reciprocity in the use of their lands. Maggie Andresen, Scientific American, 17 Dec. 2021 First, a reality check: Research has found that while the vast majority of people expect reciprocity in friendships, nearly half of these relationships are not reciprocal. Washington Post, 22 Oct. 2021 Generally, under federal law, law enforcement officers are given reciprocity to legally carry their weapons in other states, even those with restrictive gun laws. NBC News, 21 Sep. 2021 Motherhood, as Sol conceives of it, is characterized by reciprocity. Sheldon Pearce, The New Yorker, 31 Aug. 2021 Ideally individual state medical boards would permanently implement automatic reciprocity—allowing any physician licensed in another state to provide care within their state. Barak Richman, WSJ, 12 July 2021 China fulfills the quantitative criteria, for instance, but the entry of Chinese travelers is conditional upon reciprocity. New York Times, 18 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reciprocity.' 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 reciprocity

1753, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for reciprocity

see reciprocal entry 1

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Time Traveler for reciprocity

Time Traveler

The first known use of reciprocity was in 1753

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Dictionary Entries Near reciprocity



reciprocity law

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Reciprocity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for reciprocity


rec·​i·​proc·​i·​ty | \ ˌre-sə-ˈprä-sə-tē How to pronounce reciprocity (audio) \
plural reciprocities

Legal Definition of reciprocity

1 : the quality or state of being reciprocal
2 : the exchange, recognition, or enforcement of licenses, privileges, or obligations between states of the U.S. or between nations


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