rec·​i·​proc·​i·​ty | \ ˌre-sə-ˈprä-s(ə-)tē How to pronounce reciprocity (audio) \
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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Trump has an old-fashioned view that allies especially should practice trade reciprocity, and that what would not be tolerated with an enemy should certainly not be indulged with a friend. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Is Germany Becoming Germany — Again?," 4 June 2019 First, Americans object to China’s lack of reciprocity for trade and investment. Robert B. Zoellick, WSJ, "A Better Way to Deal With Beijing," 14 May 2019 Virgo Venus Virgo Venus people love to problem-solve, and fittingly, seek a partnership that is based on reciprocity. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What the Position of Venus in Your Birth Chart Means for You," 31 July 2018 Among the list of problems beleaguering the security clearance process, reciprocity, among and even within agencies, should be easy to fix. Joe Davidson, Washington Post, "Security clearance process remains ‘broken’ despite 2016 changes," 19 Mar. 2018 In the eyes of a growing number of Americans, pushback against China’s lack of reciprocity is now both justified and overdue. Orville Schell And Larry Diamond, WSJ, "China Gets Its Message to Americans but Doesn’t Want to Reciprocate," 21 Dec. 2018 Equality is often the basis for reciprocity in relationships. The Christian Science Monitor, "Trump’s demand for reciprocity with allies," 12 July 2018 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

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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Statistics for reciprocity

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for reciprocity

The first known use of reciprocity was in 1753

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English Language Learners Definition 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


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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