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re·​cum·​bent ri-ˈkəm-bənt How to pronounce recumbent (audio)
: suggestive of repose : leaning, resting
comfortably recumbent against a fallen tree
: lying down
Then Mr. Grey was shown in, and found the squire recumbent on a sofa, with a store of books within his reach …Anthony Trollope
: representing a person lying down
a recumbent statue
of a bicycle : having the seat positioned so that the rider's legs are extended horizontally forward to the pedals and the body is reclined
a recumbent bicycle


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: a bicycle with a wide seat that has a back support and is positioned so that the rider's legs are extended horizontally forward to the pedals and the body is reclined
The recumbent requires a bit more space, but its chairlike seat offers better back support.Patrick Netter et al.
There are more than a dozen categories of recumbents with one thing in common: the sit-down position.Dan Koeppel

Did you know?

If you're ready to take your vocabulary lying down, you'll want to be familiar with the synonyms recumbent, prone, supine, and prostrate, all of which mean "lying down." Recumbent, which derives from the Latin prefix re- and the verb cumbere, meaning "to lie down," focuses on the posture or position native to sleeping or resting. Prone describes someone who is lying facedown, as, for example, in doing push-ups. Supine flips it over, suggesting the position of someone lying inert on the back, while prostrate implies a full-scale physical collapse or submission, regardless of the exact position of the defeated body. Recumbent, dating from 17th century, is the newest of the four words; the others all entered English before the 16th century.

Choose the Right Synonym for recumbent

prone, supine, prostrate, recumbent mean lying down.

prone implies a position with the front of the body turned toward the supporting surface.

push-ups require a prone position

supine implies lying on one's back and suggests inertness or abjectness.

lying supine on the couch

prostrate implies lying full-length as in submission, defeat, or physical collapse.

a runner fell prostrate at the finish line

recumbent implies the posture of one sleeping or resting.

a patient comfortably recumbent in a hospital bed

Examples of recumbent in a Sentence

Adjective … the psychiatrist's popular image remains that of a little bearded figure with a Central European accent, scribbling away in a notebook behind his recumbent patient. Roland Littlewood, Times Literary Supplement, September 1984
A recumbent figure started up from the grass and came running toward them through the flickering screen of light and shade. Willa Cather, O Pioneers!, 1913
The Egyptian sphinx has the body of a recumbent lion.
Recent Examples on the Web
Best Things to Do Awana Spa This place exudes tranquility right down to its footprint, which features curvilinear walls in the shape of a recumbent Buddha. David Morris, Travel + Leisure, 12 June 2024 The tricycle itself is a fairly standard recumbent setup, with the cranks in front and slightly above the seat, which can be adjusted for different riders' legs. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 12 May 2024 One moving work is a wall-size, single-channel video projection of a recumbent Black torso, seen from behind, the head obscured beneath a stony pile of gray rubble. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2024 Created on railroad tracks, this scenic electric-assist recumbent bike tour guides travelers on journeys north or south through the farmlands and forests along the Susquehanna River. Linnea Bailey, Travel + Leisure, 10 Jan. 2024 The lounge furniture begs you to shed your burdens and assume a recumbent posish. Christopher Cameron, Robb Report, 12 Mar. 2024 The funky contraptions look more like recumbent bikes than your standard bicycle with chairs as opposed to bicycle seats, all pieced together into a quad. Kylie Martin, Detroit Free Press, 26 Feb. 2024 Venus has more than volcanic outbursts; the planet also sinks in places, like the chest of a recumbent giant exhaling. Shi En Kim, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Feb. 2024 From the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at Bowling Green to the Bronx Zoo, from the figures of George Washington on the Washington Arch in Greenwich Village to the recumbent lions at the flagship building of The New York Public Library, the Piccirillis left their mark all over town. John Freeman Gill, New York Times, 15 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'recumbent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Latin recumbent-, recumbens, present participle of recumbere to lie down, from re- + -cumbere to lie down; akin to Latin cubare to lie

First Known Use


1664, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1968, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of recumbent was in 1664


Dictionary Entries Near recumbent

Cite this Entry

“Recumbent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


re·​cum·​bent ri-ˈkəm-bənt How to pronounce recumbent (audio)
: being in a state of rest
: lying down

Medical Definition


re·​cum·​bent -bənt How to pronounce recumbent (audio)
: lying down
a patient recumbent on a stretcher

More from Merriam-Webster on recumbent

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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