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[ri-ses-iv] /rɪˈsɛs ɪv/
tending to go, move, or slant back; receding.
Genetics. of or relating to a recessive.
Phonetics. (of an accent) showing a tendency to recede from the end toward the beginning of a word.
noun, Genetics.
that one of a pair of alternative alleles whose effect is masked by the activity of the second when both are present in the same cell or organism.
the trait or character determined by such an allele.
Compare dominant (def 6).
Origin of recessive
1665-75; < Latin recess(us) (see recess) + -ive
Related forms
recessively, adverb
recessiveness, noun
nonrecessive, adjective
unrecessive, adjective
unrecessively, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for recessive
Contemporary Examples
  • In stark contrast with the sunny personality of his predecessor, Tony Blair, Brown's demeanor is dour, recessive and technocratic.

Historical Examples
British Dictionary definitions for recessive


tending to recede or go back; receding
  1. (of a gene) capable of producing its characteristic phenotype in the organism only when its allele is identical
  2. (of a character) controlled by such a gene Compare dominant (sense 4)
(linguistics) (of stress) tending to be placed on or near the initial syllable of a polysyllabic word
  1. a recessive gene or character
  2. an organism having such a gene or character
Derived Forms
recessively, adverb
recessiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for recessive

1670s, from Latin recess-, past participle stem of recedere (see recede) + -ive. Linguistics sense is from 1879; in genetics, 1900, from German recessiv (Mendel, 1865). Related: Recessiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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recessive in Medicine

recessive re·ces·sive (rĭ-sěs'ĭv)

  1. Tending to go backward or recede.

  2. Of, relating to, or being an allele that does not produce a characteristic effect when present with a dominant allele.

  3. O, or being a trait expressed only when the determining allele is present in the homozygous condition.

  1. A recessive allele or trait.

  2. An organism having a recessive trait.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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recessive in Science
Relating to the form of a gene that is not expressed as a trait in an individual unless two such genes are inherited, one from each parent. In an organism having two different genes for a trait, the recessive form is overpowered by its counterpart, or dominant, form located on the other of a pair of chromosomes. In humans, lack of dimples is a recessive trait, while the presence of dimples is dominant. See more at carrier, inheritance. Compare dominant.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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