• synonyms


[ri-ses, ree-ses]
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  1. temporary withdrawal or cessation from the usual work or activity.
  2. a period of such withdrawal.
  3. a receding part or space, as a bay or alcove in a room.
  4. an indentation in a line or extent of coast, hills, forest, etc.
  5. recesses, a secluded or inner area or part: in the recesses of the palace.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to place or set in a recess.
  2. to set or form as or like a recess; make a recess or recesses in: to recess a wall.
  3. to suspend or defer for a recess: to recess the Senate.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to take a recess.
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Origin of recess

1510–20; < Latin recessus a withdrawal, receding part, equivalent to recēd(ere) to recede1 + -tus suffix of v. action, with dt > ss
Related formsnon·re·cess, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for recess

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Then she went with Rico to school and back again, and in recess they were also together.

    Rico and Wiseli

    Johanna Spyri

  • At every recess hour the forces gathered for the exciting sport.

  • I only hope he's not in that recess or deep doorway now, if it leads into your mountain.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • It was recess and the campus was overflowing with boys and girls, but Pat was alone.

  • On either side a recess in the wall had been fitted up as a couch.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for recess


noun (rɪˈsɛs, ˈriːsɛs)
  1. a space, such as a niche or alcove, set back or indented
  2. (often plural) a secluded or secret placerecesses of the mind
  3. a cessation of business, such as the closure of Parliament during a vacation
  4. anatomy a small cavity or depression in a bodily organ, part, or structure
  5. US and Canadian a break between classes at a school
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verb (rɪˈsɛs)
  1. (tr) to place or set (something) in a recess
  2. (tr) to build a recess or recesses in (a wall, building, etc)
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Word Origin

C16: from Latin recessus a retreat, from recēdere to recede
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

Word Origin and History for recess


1530s, "act of receding," from Latin recessus "a going back, retreat," from recessum, past participle of recedere "to recede" (see recede). Meaning "hidden or remote part" first recorded 1610s; that of "period of stopping from usual work" is from 1620s, probably from parliamentary notion of "recessing" into private chambers.

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1809, from recess (n.). Related: Recessed; recessing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

recess in Medicine


(rēsĕs′, rĭ-sĕs)
  1. A small hollow or an indented area.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.