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

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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 Among the holiday’s brightest lights are those who extend a hand, without judgment or expectation of reciprocity, to help. Maria Shine Stewart, cleveland, "Admiring some of the holiday’s brightest lights: Sun Messages," 21 Dec. 2020 There is no law of political reciprocity in this household: Zapata is not allowed to put up anything for Biden. Brittny Mejia, Anchorage Daily News, "Florida is the ultimate Latino melting pot, and these voters could decide the election," 1 Nov. 2020 And indeed, there are pockets of such cooperation—notably in the form of reciprocity agreements among the District of Columbia and neighboring states, and between Illinois and its neighbors. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Coronavirus telecommuters could face a tax nightmare," 27 June 2020 Under the bills being drafted, the state would keep licensing in place for people wanting to take advantage of reciprocity with other states, to be able to carry in the 32 other states that have reciprocal agreements with Indiana. Margaret Menge, Washington Examiner, "Constitutional carry bills expected in Indiana," 15 Dec. 2020 The tradition of shared gift giving, as well, is more than just an exchange of items, Xygalatas said, but a way to reinforce a sense of reciprocity in relationships and strengthening bonds. Rachel Hutton, Star Tribune, "Tide overs and rain checks: How to cope with changes to your holiday tradition," 11 Dec. 2020 Her notion of the importance of reciprocity in our relationship to nature is a world-changing one. WSJ, "Leaders in Literature, Politics and Arts Share Their Favorite Books of 2020," 11 Dec. 2020 There is conflict in a forest, but there is also negotiation, reciprocity and perhaps even selflessness. New York Times, "The Social Life of Forests," 2 Dec. 2020 The salmon are part of that river: a gift, a thing to be cared for, a manifestation of the cyclicity and reciprocity of a world in balance. National Geographic, "Huge dam demolition could save salmon on the edge of extinction," 18 Nov. 2020

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

29 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Reciprocity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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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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