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

transitive verb

: to pass again through a series of changes or treatments: such as
: to process (something, such as liquid body waste, glass, or cans) in order to regain material for human use
: 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
: to adapt to a new use : alter
: to bring back : reuse
recycles a number of good anecdotesLarry McMurtry
: to make ready for reuse
a plan to recycle vacant tenements
: 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

: to return to an earlier point in a countdown
: to return to an original condition so that operation can begin again
used of an electronic device
: 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.
recyclable adjective or noun
recycler noun


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: the process of recycling

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Where to donate or recycle your eclipse glasses in Ohio. The Enquirer, 9 Apr. 2024 The nylon and the poly lining are both recycled as well. Brittany Vanderbill, Peoplemag, 9 Apr. 2024 Recycle eclipse glasses from the 2024 solar eclipse If your viewing glasses are damaged and can't be donated, recycle them. Marina Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 8 Apr. 2024 In most cases, burying trash is the cheapest option — cheaper than recycling or diverting items from the landfill, Cantu said, though landfill officials did not have data available about the cost of burying or diverting waste. Sarah Cutler, Idaho Statesman, 8 Apr. 2024 Related Articles One major Bay Area city is particularly bad at recycling. Nollyanne Delacruz, The Mercury News, 6 Apr. 2024 The city of San Diego accepts such products in residents’ recycling bins, but not all private haulers do. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Apr. 2024 But those additives make recycling polypropylene more difficult. Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times, 5 Apr. 2024 The program repurposes used guitar and orchestral strings in partnership with recycling company TerraCycle. Josh Glicksman, Billboard, 2 Apr. 2024
Some consumers put their recyclables in plastic bags and then put the bags in the recycle bins. Cynthia Sewell, Idaho Statesman, 8 Apr. 2024 That could look like walking or biking to school, throwing out litter or choosing to recycle. Natalie Eilbert, Journal Sentinel, 4 Apr. 2024 While lithium-ion batteries can be difficult to recycle, researchers said that water batteries can be easily disassembled and reused. Cameron Pugh, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 Mar. 2024 The new regulations set higher allowable limits for airborne lead for some processes used to manufacture and recycle lead acid batteries. Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2024 The most recent new Taylor Swift album, Midnights, even caught flack for seeming to recycle Antonoff’s past work. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 8 Mar. 2024 The utility has begun researching sustainable options to manage and recycle brine using Zero Liquid Discharge and membrane distillation, technologies that experts hope will treat saline water and wastewater. Arielle Paul, New York Times, 18 Nov. 2023 Remove packaging: To save space and boost appearances, remove and recycle product packaging when possible and practical. Marni Jameson, The Mercury News, 8 Feb. 2024 Dump the contents of the drawer onto the towel and start sorting into keep, recycle, or trash. Patricia Doherty, Travel + Leisure, 13 Nov. 2023

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

Word History

First Known Use


1925, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1926, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of recycle was in 1925

Dictionary Entries Near recycle

Cite this Entry

“Recycle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to process (as liquid body waste, glass, or cans) in order to regain materials for human use

More from Merriam-Webster on recycle

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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