rec·​i·​proc·​i·​ty | \ˌre-sə-ˈprä-s(ə-)tē \
plural reciprocities

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

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Gratitude and reciprocity are rooted in human and animal evolution, according to a white paper reviewing recent research that was published in May by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Jennifer Breheny Wallace, WSJ, "For Couples, Gratitude Is a Boomerang," 12 Oct. 2018 The administration is looking at ways to enforce reciprocity with China on foreign investment, meaning the U.S. would only allow takeovers in sectors that U.S. companies can access in China, according to the people. Andrew Mayeda,, "U.S. Considers Broad Curbs on Chinese Imports, Takeovers," 7 Mar. 2018 This would ensure that reciprocity, balance and proportion are part of the process. Christopher R. Hill And Thomas R. Pickering, star-telegram, "What would a successful Trump-Kim summit look like?," 11 June 2018 Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, had also persuaded the EU, Canada and Japan to match the U.S.’s ban on Chinese technology investments and its policy of strict reciprocity on investment. Greg Ip, WSJ, "The Trade Wars of 2018: An Alternate History," 10 June 2018 In each summit with allies, Trump keeps hammering on reciprocity. The Christian Science Monitor, "Trump’s demand for reciprocity with allies," 12 July 2018 Trade negotiators take a broader view of reciprocity. The Economist, "Donald Trump insists on trade reciprocity. But what kind?," 12 July 2018 After all, there’s no reciprocity to be found when health insurance is still, for many in academia, considered a plush amenity. Rachel Vorona Cote, The New Republic, "Volunteers of the Ivory Tower," 1 May 2018 That same principle of reciprocity guides Mr Trump’s trade policy as president. The Economist, "Donald Trump insists on trade reciprocity. But what kind?," 12 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of reciprocity

1753, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for reciprocity

see reciprocal entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about reciprocity

Share reciprocity

Statistics for reciprocity

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reciprocity

The first known use of reciprocity was in 1753

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for reciprocity



English Language Learners Definition of reciprocity

: 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


rec·​i·​proc·​i·​ty | \ˌre-sə-ˈprä-sə-tē \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on reciprocity

What made you want to look up reciprocity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!