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Latin reciprocus, possibly from a phrase such as reque proque (back and forth, to and fro), from re- (back), prō (forwards) and -que (and).


  • IPA(key): /ɹɪˈsɪpɹək(ə)l/
  • (file)


reciprocal (not comparable)

  1. Of a logical relation, feeling, action: in return, inversely corresponding. Contrast with mutual, two-way, where the relation must be symmetrical.
    I invited them to the concert; they couldn't come, but extended a reciprocal invitation to lunch
    1. reciprocal duties, reciprocal help (non-identical services are exchanged)
      • Shakespeare, King Lear
        "Let our reciprocal vows be remembered" (Shakespeare, King Lear; Goneril has promised Edmund that she will marry him; Edmund has promised Goneril that he will murder her husband)
    2. reciprocal terms; term pairs that express what A is to B and what B is to A. If the same term is used for both directions, they are "self-reciprocal" or mutual terms.
      under is the reciprocal term of over
      hypernym is the reciprocal term of hyponym
      ("dog" is a hypernym of "poodle", and "poodle" is a hyponym of "dog")
  2. (mathematics) Used to denote different kinds of mutual relation; often with reference to the substitution of reciprocals for given quantities.
  3. (grammar) expressing mutual or reciprocal action, applied to reciprocal pronouns (e.g. "Love one another", "We taught each other a lot") and reciprocal verbs; (e.g. "They met"); also, sometimes, in a broader sense: reflexive (e.g. "Know yourself!").

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reciprocal (plural reciprocals)

  1. (arithmetic) Of a number, the number obtained by dividing 1 by the given number; the result of exchanging the numerator and the denominator of a fraction.
    0.5 is the reciprocal of 2.