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

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Other Words from recursive

recursively adverb
recursiveness noun

Examples of recursive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Maquette is the latest game from the contemplative publisher Annapurna Interactive, and its recursive game world needs to be seen firsthand. Luke Winkie, Vulture, "The Best Video Games of 2021 (So Far)," 9 Apr. 2021 This is how recursive self-improvement takes place—not at the level of individuals but at the level of human civilization as a whole. Ted Chiang, The New Yorker, "Why Computers Won’t Make Themselves Smarter," 30 Mar. 2021 But that would still leave us at a plateau; there would be no recursive self-improvement and no intelligence explosion. Ted Chiang, The New Yorker, "Why Computers Won’t Make Themselves Smarter," 30 Mar. 2021 Consider the recursive structure of fern fronds, or a coastline from above. New York Times, "Triangulating Math, Mozart and ‘Moby-Dick’," 6 Mar. 2021 That, after all, is a form of necessary collective agency necessitated by our financial markets’ subjection to recursive renditions of the collective action predicaments noted above. Robert Hockett, Forbes, "‘Building Back Better’ Phase Two – Time Now To Jumpstart Domestic Production," 3 Mar. 2021 If Versailles' Hall of Mirrors and a set of Russian nesting dolls could somehow reproduce, Maquette would be their dizzyingly recursive love child. Peter Rubin, Wired, "Maquette Goes Big on Metaphor but Light on Real Emotion," 2 Mar. 2021 The target then decrypts the query, produces a response by sending the query to a recursive resolver such as, and then encrypts the response to the client. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Cloudflare, Apple, and others back a new way to make the Internet more private," 8 Dec. 2020 That’s what gives melodrama, like myth, its recursive power: The individual is ground in the gears of something that feels like fate, the more painful because those gears operate most powerfully inside her own psyche. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, "Wong Kar-wai’s Masterpieces of Political Uncertainty," 2 Dec. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for recursive

Time Traveler

The first known use of recursive was in 1934

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Statistics for recursive

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Recursive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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Britannica English: Translation of recursive for Arabic Speakers

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