[ 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).

Nearby words

  1. recessional,
  2. recessional moraine,
  3. recessionary,
  4. recessionista,
  5. recessionproof,
  6. recessive character,
  7. recessive gene,
  8. recessive inheritance,
  9. recessive trait,
  10. recessively

Origin of recessive

1665–75; < Latin recess(us) (see recess) + -ive

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for recessive

British Dictionary definitions for recessive


/ (rɪˈsɛsɪv) /


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 geneCompare dominant (def. 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 Formsrecessively, adverbrecessiveness, 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

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

Medicine definitions for recessive


[ rĭ-sĕsĭv ]


Tending to go backward or recede.
Of, relating to, or being an allele that does not produce a characteristic effect when present with a dominant allele.
Of, relating to, or being a trait expressed only when the determining allele is present in the homozygous condition.


A recessive allele or trait.
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.

Science definitions for recessive


[ rĭ-sĕsĭv ]

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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.