re·​cy·​cle | \ (ˌ)rē-ˈsī-kəl How to pronounce recycle (audio) \
recycled; recycling; recycles

Definition of recycle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to pass again through a series of changes or treatments: such as
a : to process (something, such as liquid body waste, glass, or cans) in order to regain material for human use
c : to reuse or make (a substance) available for reuse for biological activities through natural processes of biochemical degradation or modification green plants recycling the residue of forest fires recycle ADP back to ATP
2 : to adapt to a new use : alter
3 : to bring back : reuse recycles a number of good anecdotes— Larry McMurtry
4 : to make ready for reuse a plan to recycle vacant tenements
5 : to reuse (money) by investing especially in an area or enterprise that will allow the investment to return as new profits recycle petrodollars

intransitive verb

1 : to return to an earlier point in a countdown
2 : to return to an original condition so that operation can begin again used of an electronic device
3 : to process materials or substances (such as liquid body waste, glass, or cans) in order to regain material for human use As a rule, Welch does not recycle. Its roadsides are littered with paper bags from the town's half-dozen fast-food outlets.



Definition of recycle (Entry 2 of 2)

: the process of recycling

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Other Words from recycle


recyclability \ ri-​ˌsī-​k(ə-​)lə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce recycle (audio) \ noun
recyclable \ ri-​ˈsī-​k(ə-​)lə-​bəl How to pronounce recycle (audio) \ adjective or noun
recycler \ ri-​ˈsī-​k(ə-​)lər How to pronounce recycle (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for recycle

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of recycle in a Sentence

Verb They're studying various ways to recycle garbage into fuel. The doormat is made from recycled tires. Town residents are required to recycle cans and bottles. We make efforts to recycle. The author recycles a familiar story in her latest novel.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb By Dayna Fields Publicly listed companies like Waste Management collect our glass, plastic and paper, but there may soon be an opportunity to invest in companies that recycle our clothes and textiles. Mergermarket, Forbes, 14 Sep. 2021 There will also be facilities to recycle water and process renewable energy to promote long-term sustainability. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 3 Sep. 2021 Others claimed houses on their block that don’t usually recycle received one while other faithful recyclers were overlooked. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, 14 Aug. 2021 The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana program has been working since 2014 to recycle oyster shells to protect wetlands and coastal communities. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 9 Aug. 2021 These massive, hollow blades – often made with thermoset resin, a tough plastic cured at extremely high heat – are difficult to break down, let alone recycle. Lindsey Mcginnis, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 July 2021 Other big-winning projects include the city’s Pure Water project, which would recycle 83 million gallons of treated sewage into drinking water by 2035. San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 July 2021 The goal is to collect and recycle 2 to 4 million cans and bottles annually to fund college tuition for up to two students. Star Tribune, 16 July 2021 How to Dispose of Paint Method #7: Toss latex paint in the trash, but recycle the cans. Dan Shapley, Popular Mechanics, 9 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun DeSoto residents looking to rid themselves of old documents and electronics can attend the city’s annual document shedding and e-recycle event on Saturday, Sept. 11. Tyler Carter, Dallas News, 23 Aug. 2021 Staff would also be happy to chat about the resort’s sustainability initiatives (like the banning of all single-use plastics) and the new partnership with Partley Air to help reduce marine plastic pollution and recycle plastic waste. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 24 Aug. 2021 And, perhaps the most important upgrade of all is the resort's new partnership with Parley Air, which will work to reduce marine plastic pollution and recycle plastic waste. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, 23 Aug. 2021 Cleanup Rinse out the bottle and recycle or reuse it. Katherine Harmon, Scientific American, 9 May 2011 The issue inspired Allen to create a bill that lays out exactly what kind of packages can carry the triangular recycle symbol. Justin Ray, Los Angeles Times, 5 Aug. 2021 Many cosmetics companies are looking to reduce, recycle, and reuse by rethinking every step of the supply chain for circularity. Danielle Bernabe, Fortune, 28 June 2021 Last year, a separate study predicted that the world will have 710 million metric tons of plastic by 2040 -- and that's taking into account efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic products. Sara Spary, CNN, 2 July 2021 The decision to re-use, refurbish, re-manufacture, or recycle goes a long way to improving sustainable supply chain operations and building a circular economy. Steve Banker, Forbes, 29 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'recycle.' 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 recycle


1925, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1926, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for recycle

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The first known use of recycle was in 1925

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Last Updated

26 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Recycle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for recycle



English Language Learners Definition of recycle

: to make something new from (something that has been used before)
: to send (used newspapers, bottles, cans, etc.) to a place where they are made into something new
: to use (something) again


re·​cy·​cle | \ ˌrē-ˈsī-kəl How to pronounce recycle (audio) \
recycled; recycling

Kids Definition of recycle

: to process (as paper, glass, or cans) in order to regain or reuse materials

More from Merriam-Webster on recycle

Nglish: Translation of recycle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of recycle for Arabic Speakers


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