re·​cur·​sive ri-ˈkər-siv How to pronounce recursive (audio)
: of, relating to, or involving recursion
a recursive function in a computer program
: of, relating to, or constituting a procedure that can repeat itself indefinitely
a recursive rule in a grammar
recursively adverb
recursiveness noun

Examples of recursive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And there’s a bunch of ideas and techniques that have been proposed over the years: recursive reward modeling, debate, task decomposition, and so on. IEEE Spectrum, 31 Aug. 2023 The birds produced the recursive sequences in around 40 percent of trials—but without the extra training that the monkeys required. Diana Kwon, Scientific American, 2 Nov. 2022 Our century’s twin brutality and banality have only intensified in their recursive forms. Dionne Brand Anne Boyer, New York Times, 29 June 2023 Cyber Kendra said that in November the Alibaba Cloud security team disclosed a vulnerability in Log4j2—the successor to Log4j—that stemmed from recursive analysis functions, which attackers could exploit by constructing malicious requests that triggered remote code execution. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 9 Dec. 2021 Because technology is recursive. Shannon Liao, Washington Post, 18 July 2022 And the disinformation internet is recursive. Katherine Cusumano, Outside Online, 28 Mar. 2021 But their pains are still recursive. Bindu Bansinath, Bon Appétit, 8 Dec. 2020 The Princess Switch series fulfills its direct promise of being a trio of films about princesses switching; Love Hard is a tenuous but begrudgingly acceptable recursive pun about the main characters’ love of the film Die Hard and hard-won realizations of love for one another. Vulture, 10 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History


earlier, "recurring repeatedly," from Latin recursus, past participle of recurrere "to run back, run in the opposite direction, return" + -ive; in given senses as translation of German rekurrent or rekursiv — more at recur

First Known Use

1934, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of recursive was in 1934

Dictionary Entries Near recursive

Cite this Entry

“Recursive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

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