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From Middle English reclaymen, recleymen, reclamen, from Anglo-Norman reclamer (noun reclaim and Middle French reclamer (noun reclaim), from Latin reclāmō, reclāmāre.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ɹɪˈkleɪm/, /ɹiːˈkleɪm/
    • (file)


reclaim (third-person singular simple present reclaims, present participle reclaiming, simple past and past participle reclaimed)

  1. (transitive) To return land to a suitable condition for use.
  2. (transitive) To obtain useful products from waste; to recycle.
  3. (transitive) To claim something back; to repossess.
  4. (transitive, dated) To return someone to a proper course of action, or correct an error; to reform.
    • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], 2nd edition, part 1, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, (please specify the page):
      His Highneſſe pleaſure is that he ſhould liue,
      And be reclaim’d with princely lenitie.
    • 1609, Edward Hoby, A Letter to Mr. T[heophilus] H[iggons], late Minister: now Fugitive ... in answere of his first Motive:
      Your errour, in time reclaimed, will be veniall.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book VI”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      They, hardened more by what might most reclaim, / Grieving to see his glory [] took envy.
    • a. 1729, John Rogers, The Goodness of God a Motive to Repentance:
      It is the intention of Providence, in all the various expressions of his goodness, to reclaim mankind.
  5. (transitive, archaic) To tame or domesticate a wild animal.
  6. (transitive, archaic) To call back from flight or disorderly action; to call to, for the purpose of subduing or quieting.
    • 1697, Virgil, “The First Book of the Georgics”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC:
      They were the head-strong horses, who hurried Octavius [] along, and were deaf to his reclaiming them.
  7. (transitive, archaic) To cry out in opposition or contradiction; to exclaim against anything; to contradict; to take exceptions.
    • 1719, Daniel Waterland, A Vindication of Christ's Divinit:
      Scripture reclaims, and the whole Catholic church reclaims, and Christian ears would not bear it.
    • 1882, Alexander Bain, Biography of James Mill:
      At a later period Grote reclaimed strongly against Mill's setting Whately above Hamilton.
    • 1642, Thomas Fuller, The Holy State, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: [] Roger Daniel for John Williams, [], →OCLC:
      True it is he was very wild in his youth till God (the best Chymick who can fix quicksilver it self) gratiously reclaim'd him
  8. (obsolete, rare) To draw back; to give way.
  9. (intransitive, law, Scotland) To appeal from the Lord Ordinary to the inner house of the Court of Session.
  10. (sociology) To bring back a term into acceptable usage, usually of a slur, and usually by the group that was once targeted by that slur.
    Once a term of homophobic abuse, the term “queer” has been reclaimed as a marker for some gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT), and other marginalized sexual identities.

Related terms[edit]



reclaim (plural reclaims)

  1. (obsolete, falconry) The calling back of a hawk.
  2. (obsolete) The bringing back or recalling of a person; the fetching of someone back.
  3. An effort to take something back, to reclaim something.
  4. baggage reclaim

Derived terms[edit]


Old French[edit]


reclaim oblique singularm (oblique plural reclains, nominative singular reclains, nominative plural reclaim)

  1. reputation


  • English: reclaim