re·​cur·​sive | \ ri-ˈkər-siv How to pronounce recursive (audio) \

Definition of recursive

1 : of, relating to, or involving recursion a recursive function in a computer program
2 : of, relating to, or constituting a procedure that can repeat itself indefinitely a recursive rule in a grammar

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from recursive

recursively adverb
recursiveness noun

Examples of recursive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

As Marcelo Magnasco, a physicist at Rockefeller University, points out, the Eiffel Tower is a clear example of loop construction, designed to maximize the distribution of strain across its recursive frame. Quanta Magazine, "In Natural Networks, Strength in Loops," 14 Aug. 2013 This recursive structure allows us to generate sentences of potentially infinite length. Quanta Magazine, "The Bulldogs That Bulldogs Fight," 17 Apr. 2019 The script's backdoor code, as Wardle noted, is a recursive Python command-line call with a hard-coded IP address for the connection that uses port 1337—an obvious leetspeak joke. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Really dumb malware targets cryptocurrency fans using Macs," 3 July 2018 The most thrilling thing about An Homage to Hollis Benton is its recursive nature. Andrea Alonso, Los Angeles Magazine, "Fact and Fiction Collide Inside an Exhibit Inspired by a “Forgotten” L.A. Legend—and Beverly Hills Cop," 12 June 2018 Kavan offers up a recursive system, an index of reaction points as unsettling and neatly tailored as a sheaf of Rorschach blots. New York Times, "Jonathan Lethem on the Cool Disturbances of Anna Kavan’s ‘Ice’," 27 Oct. 2017 And at times some repetition across the essays creates frustration rather than the recursive meditation that may have been intended. Emily Gray Tedrowe, USA TODAY, "Amy Tan mines painful 'Past' in moving new memoir," 16 Oct. 2017 His latest book, the hybrid lyric/photo essay Blind Spot, is possibly the most stunning instance of Cole’s recursive tendencies. Ismail Muhammad, Slate Magazine, "Teju Cole’s new book of photography and essays feels like the fulfillment of an intellectual project that has defined most of his career.," 15 June 2017 That’s the recursive, complicated, and often vexing relationship many people have with the concept of vacation. Julie Williamson, Fortune, "How to Take a Better Working Vacation Than Donald Trump Did," 20 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'recursive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of recursive

1934, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for recursive

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about recursive

Statistics for recursive

Last Updated

10 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for recursive

The first known use of recursive was in 1934

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on recursive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with recursive

Britannica English: Translation of recursive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on recursive

What made you want to look up recursive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


of or relating to the heavens

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!