rec·​i·​proc·​i·​ty ˌre-sə-ˈprä-s(ə-)tē How to pronounce reciprocity (audio)
plural reciprocities
: the quality or state of being reciprocal : mutual dependence, action, or influence
: 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

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.

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The festival centers ideas of reciprocity—people gather to plant the queñual shrubs, knowing their efforts will give back to future generations. Alex Chun, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 June 2023 At the same time, the District is pursuing reciprocity agreements with Maryland and Virginia in hopes of bringing consequences to drivers in those states who violate traffic laws in the city. Emily Davies, Washington Post, 2 May 2023 Aguirre offers online therapy in more than 31 states, including all members of PsyPact (a multi-state reciprocity agreement that allows psychologists to practice telehealth across state lines). Amy Marschall, Peoplemag, 19 Apr. 2023 The paper seemed to downplay the reciprocity inherent to the Monroe Doctrine—that the U.S. would aim to avoid interfering in other spheres too. Prem Thakker, The New Republic, 30 Mar. 2023 Gauss’s work is not just quadratic reciprocity and Gaussian curvature. Rachel Crowell, Quanta Magazine, 1 Mar. 2023 Ohio has reciprocity agreements with more than three dozen states. Laura A. Bischoff, The Enquirer, 15 Mar. 2022 Hämäläinen sees a larger pattern of often-blundering Europeans becoming part of Indigenous systems of reciprocity or exploitation, followed by violent resets. David Waldstreicher, The Atlantic, 31 Dec. 2022 A number of states have reciprocity agreements, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania. E.b. Solomont, WSJ, 14 Oct. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'reciprocity.' 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

1753, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of reciprocity was in 1753

Dictionary Entries Near reciprocity

Cite this Entry

“Reciprocity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


rec·​i·​proc·​i·​ty ˌres-ə-ˈpräs-ət-ē How to pronounce reciprocity (audio)
plural reciprocities
: shared dependence, cooperation, or exchange between persons, groups, or states
: an exchange of commercial benefits between countries

Legal Definition


rec·​i·​proc·​i·​ty ˌre-sə-ˈprä-sə-tē How to pronounce reciprocity (audio)
plural reciprocities
: the quality or state of being reciprocal
: the exchange, recognition, or enforcement of licenses, privileges, or obligations between states of the U.S. or between nations
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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