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

Other Words from recursive

recursively adverb
recursiveness noun

Examples of recursive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Use your mouse to lift any one of those new shapes, then move it onto another grid for the sake of a recursive formula application. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 22 Apr. 2022 His recursive vocal tics seem to mirror the roundabout symmetry of the viral dances featured in his videos. Will Dukes, Rolling Stone, 11 Apr. 2022 The film contains recursive layers of art imitating life, with Kopernikus’s own son, Louis Nӕss-Schmidt, playing the young Jørn and Kopernikus playing Nicolaj, a version of himself. Nicolaj Kopernikus, The New Yorker, 27 Jan. 2022 The motifs—cascading green code, simulation theory, white rabbits—remain the same, a recursive loop that, while not new, plays a familiar melody. Angela Watercutter, Wired, 22 Dec. 2021 His repetitions make his music feel like it’s moving inward, in recursive patterns that feel intricate and endless, like fractals. Washington Post, 10 Dec. 2021 To piece together the insistent, almost recursive, voiceover that ebbs in and out of frame, is to witness someone trying desperately to speak to a parent who has probably not been up to the task of raising a child. Manuel Betancourt, Variety, 11 Nov. 2021 Conceptualizing, planning, building and executing a data science model is a recursive process. Sreekanth Mallikarjun, Forbes, 19 Oct. 2021 The overall rhythm of the comedy sometimes falters — the recursive structure seems to travel the same ground too often; there are diversions (a discussion of equal opportunity employment) that distract rather than enrich. Helen Shaw, Vulture, 1 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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

Learn More About recursive

Time Traveler for recursive

Time Traveler

The first known use of recursive was in 1934

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near recursive



recursive definition

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for recursive

Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Recursive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on recursive

Britannica English: Translation of recursive for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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