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 The lesson is that maintaining good diplomatic relationships with countries with large consumer markets is essential, which tends to also require some level of reciprocity. Noah Smith, Twin Cities, "Noah Smith: Globalization is narrowing the wealth gap, one nation at a time," 29 Sep. 2019 Second, when there is a mutual understanding about cost and reciprocity (i.e., the host for a recurring outing rotates, and there is a history of how much the meals cost). Judith Martin, The Mercury News, "Miss Manners: I’m sure my mystery letter came from one of these four people," 19 Sep. 2019 The unusually pointed remarks from the ambassador to Beijing, Terry Branstad, turned on a catchphrase — reciprocity — that U.S. officials have invoked to justify a tougher approach toward China on issues ranging from commerce to diplomacy. Washington Post, "Ambassador, defending new rules, says China has obstructed U.S. diplomats’ work for decades," 21 Oct. 2019 There has long existed an informal system of exchange between creative people, a reciprocity born of mutual admiration, camaraderie or rivalry — and sometimes, a potently ambivalent mix of all three. New York Times, "Cash, Credit or Painting? How, and Why, Artists Exchange Work," 8 Oct. 2019 But the decree explicitly demanded reciprocity for the more than 150,000 Spaniards living in Britain. Washington Post, "These 5 countries are busy prepping for a post-Brexit world," 6 Sep. 2019 The leaders of France, Germany and the European Union’s executive sought to present Chinese President Xi Jinping with a united front at talks in Paris on Tuesday, pressing him for more reciprocity on trade amid wariness about China’s rising power. Noemie Bisserbe, WSJ, "Europe Embraces China’s Xi—Warily," 26 Mar. 2019 Basic friendship skills — reciprocity, listening, turn-taking, sharing — should also show up in your romantic relationships. Heidi Stevens,, "Column: Middle school has a lousy reputation. (Frenemies! Hormones! Lockers!) New book aims to change all that.," 23 Aug. 2019 Ryan on Tuesday gave no indication there are additional measures in the works beyond the legislation already passed in the House, which includes the background check proposal and concealed carry reciprocity measure., "Trump Talks About Shooting Response but Offers Few Details," 27 Feb. 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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Time Traveler for reciprocity

Time Traveler

The first known use of reciprocity was in 1753

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Statistics for reciprocity

Last Updated

28 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Reciprocity.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for reciprocity


How to pronounce reciprocity (audio)

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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