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 recyclability (audio) \ noun
recyclable \ ri-​ˈsī-​k(ə-​)lə-​bəl How to pronounce recyclable (audio) \ adjective or noun
recycler \ ri-​ˈsī-​k(ə-​)lər How to pronounce recycler (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 The driver, who works for recycling and garbage collection company SaniPac, was identified and found Monday hours after the woman was killed., "Garbage truck driver ran over woman found dead in sleeping bag, Eugene police say," 28 Aug. 2019 The pile of material suitable for recycling is tiny compared to the rest. NBC News, "Bali fights back as tons of floating plastic threaten to spoil once-pristine paradise," 25 Aug. 2019 In recent years, more and more people are getting home deliveries in boxes, and many fail to break down the boxes before submitting them for recycling., "Pepper Pike seeks to resolve city hall garbage drop-off problem," 22 Aug. 2019 Mariam Coulibaly is part of a legion of women in Abidjan who make their living picking up plastic waste on the city streets and selling it for recycling. Anemona Hartocollis,, "Less waste and more schools, one plastic brick at a time," 27 July 2019 Melissa Elstein, secretary and co-founder of the West 80s Neighborhood Association, said the problem could be solved if neighborhoods were to institute bins for recycling and for food waste. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "New York City removed 110 trash cans. Now garbage is overflowing and the rats are 'running wild'," 17 July 2019 China’s zeal for recycling comes as the country upended global recycling habits (paywall) last year, by banning many categories of foreign trash imports. Echo Huang, Quartz, "“What kind of rubbish are you?”: China’s first serious trash-sorting rule is driving Shanghai crazy," 5 July 2019 The next big challenge is to switch from recycling to reusables, says Michael Martin, CEO of Effect Partners. Heidi Taksdal Skjeseth, Billboard, "At Norway's Øya Festival, Going Green Is the Name of the Game," 1 Aug. 2019 These bags are also major problems for recycling operations, clogging machines and costing Connecticut cities and towns millions of extra dollars every year. Gregory B. Hladky,, "A statewide plastic bag tax takes effect Thursday. Here’s what you need to know before heading to the store.," 29 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The program is not for your plastic lens case; check it for a recycle code. Laura Daily, Washington Post, "Contact lenses, corks and Christmas lights can all be recycled. Here’s how.," 25 June 2019 Same thing with the G-7 summit, with Macron giving everybody these watches made of recycle fishing nets and powered by solar energy. Nr Staff, National Review, "Episode 162: Gaffe-Prone, but Going Strong," 30 Aug. 2019 Baker, who is in Dillingham for three weeks taking a class at the University of Washington salmon research camp, also has met with the local Curyung Tribe which has managed a net recycle program at the Dillingham Harbor since 2008. Anchorage Daily News, "Derelict vessel law sets up ‘DMV gantlet’ for thousands of Alaska mariners," 27 June 2019 His ability to win the ball and recycle possession will become an essential part of his country's game for the next few years., "Netherlands vs England: Picking the Best Combined XI Ahead of Thursday's Nations League Semi-Final," 4 June 2019 Vogueworld Kate Middleton Recycled One of Her Most Stunning Dresses for the Portrait Gala in London Even a Duchess knows how to execute a good recycle-and-reuse moment. Vogue, "Kate Middleton Recycled One of Her Most Stunning Dresses for the Portrait Gala in London," 13 Mar. 2019 Most of it gets turned into clothes and carpets since plastic loses some of its structural properties and becomes discolored with each recycle, diminishing the appeal to bottled-water makers. Saabira Chaudhuri, WSJ, "Plastic Water Bottles, Which Enabled a Drinks Boom, Now Threaten a Crisis," 12 Dec. 2018 And why kind-of, sort-of recycle a look at a huge event like a wedding? Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Has Worn Her Alexander McQueen Gown From Eugenie's Wedding Before," 13 Oct. 2018 Take a look through your recycle bin — bottle caps, jar lids and other plastic containers make great dashboard dials, buttons and knobs. Lara Sorokanich, Popular Mechanics, "4 Great Halloween Costumes From the PM Archives," 11 Oct. 2018

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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Statistics for recycle

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for recycle

The first known use of recycle was in 1925

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More Definitions for recycle


How to pronounce recycle (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on recycle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for recycle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with recycle

Spanish Central: Translation of recycle

Nglish: Translation of recycle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of recycle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on recycle

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concealed or difficult to comprehend

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