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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
Copper is an especially good candidate for reuse, because it can be recycled indefinitely without losing its value or performance, Mr. Guérin said. Jennifer McDermott, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 June 2024 The Environmental Protection Agency reports that less than a third of glass in the United States gets recycled. Ashley Miznazi, Miami Herald, 8 June 2024
Cooperating with bacteria to recycle nitrogen would be more energetically expensive for the flies than cutting out the middleman and just doing it themselves. Rohini Subrahmanyam, Scientific American, 14 May 2024 Donate, recycle, or keep your viewing glasses after. The Indianapolis Star, 8 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for recycle 

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 17 Jun. 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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