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 company collects them at the at the end of the day, cleans them and sends them for recycling. Parija Kavilanz, CNN, "This could be America's smallest restaurant," 3 Feb. 2020 Cardboard is an attractive candidate for recycling. Washington Post, "Editorial Roundup: Florida," 29 Jan. 2020 Until this year, Westfield and most other communities in Western Massachusetts paid nothing for recycling. David Abel,, "National recycling crisis hits hard in Western Massachusetts," 11 Jan. 2020 Faced with a growing trash crisis domestically, China delivered a waste wake-up call heard around the world in 2017, announcing a ban on importing plastics for recycling starting the following year. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "China Once Welcomed the World’s Trash. Now It’s Using A.I. and Facial Recognition to Handle Mountains of Its Own," 29 Nov. 2019 People already struggle to correctly prepare and sort familiar consumer goods for recycling. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "This Stone Paper Is Cool. Its Environmental Impact Is Complicated.," 26 Nov. 2019 The owner of C&R Pipe and Steel Inc., Dennis Wilfer, said the chemical was mixed with water inside an unmarked cylinder that had been dropped off at his business for recycling. USA TODAY, "Pooch hit by car goes for ride, manatee rescued, unusual toilet paper roller: News from around our 50 states," 1 Nov. 2019 Some sang hymns or collected water bottles for recycling. The Economist, "Tiananmen veterans view Hong Kong’s crisis with fatalism," 10 Oct. 2019 Three bags in the kitchen: one for garbage, one for recycling other stuff, one for actual trash. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Listen to Greta Thunberg and learn (9/29/19)," 29 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Clean out 2019 files, recycle or shred old papers, and create new folders for 2020 to keep track of incoming papers including financial documents, school papers, home repairs, charitable contributions, etc. Washington Post, "Want a more calm 2020? A professional organizer suggests these 20 resolutions.," 14 Jan. 2020 Map/brochure: Available in small box at trailheads (most recycle after use); PDF at Tom Stienstra,, "Sunday Getaway: Purisima Creek Redwoods," 15 Dec. 2019 Her elegant ensemble was a total win – both on the red carpet and for the environment (reduce, reuse, recycle, y'all!). Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Pretty Little Liars' Troian Bellisario Re-Wore Her Wedding Dress to the 2020 Golden Globes," 8 Jan. 2020 Look for a recycle speed in the range of 1.75 to 2.5 seconds for all-purpose shooting. The Editors, Outdoor Life, "3 Things to Look for in a Clay Target Thrower," 15 Nov. 2019 The official finally noticed an unopened envelop, addressed to a Coe Street resident, in the recycle bin. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "Domestic dispute spills into front yard; neighbor calls police about turfing incident: Berea police blotter," 3 Jan. 2020 But now that the signs of climate change are blazingly, meltingly evident, those quaint Earth Day era tenets — reuse, reduce, recycle — seem compulsory; the least one can do. Penelope Green, New York Times, "Is Tinsel Canceled?," 18 Dec. 2019 Another area of concern are plastic items containing the recycle logo on the bottom, with numbers. Sue Kiesewetter,, "Recycling explained at Saturday event in Fairfield," 14 Nov. 2019 After the holidays, remove the metal frame from wreaths and recycle. Arricca Elin Sansone, House Beautiful, "How to Keep Your Holiday Greenery Fresh," 31 Oct. 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of recycle was in 1925

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Statistics for recycle

Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Recycle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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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

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