[ ri-sid-uh-viz-uhm ]
/ rɪˈsɪd əˌvɪz əm /
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repeated or habitual relapse, as into crime.
Psychiatry. the chronic tendency toward repetition of criminal or antisocial behavior patterns.
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Origin of recidivism

1885–90; <Latin recidīv(us) relapsing (recid(ere) to fall back (re-re- + -cidere, combining form of cadere to fall) + -īvus-ive) + -ism


re·cid·i·vist, noun, adjectivere·cid·i·vis·tic, re·cid·i·vous, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does recidivism mean?

Recidivism most commonly refers to the act of continuing to commit crimes after having been imprisoned for one and released.

In general, recidivism refers to a repeated or habitual relapse of any kind, but it is most often associated with crime and drug addiction. The verb form of recidivism is recidivate, which is synonymous with relapse. In psychology, recidivism refers to a repeated tendency to engage in crime or antisocial behavior.

Example: Statistics show that elderly people have a low recidivism rate—once released from prison, they rarely commit more crimes.

Where does recidivism come from?

The first records of recidivism come from the 1880s. It comes from the Latin  recidīvus, meaning “relapsing,” from the Latin verb recid(ere), “to fall back.”

Fall back is used in many phrases related to relapsing, such as fall back into old habits and fall back into a life of crime. The word recidivism refers to the same thing but is used in a more formal and clinical way. It is especially discussed in the context of recidivism rates among convicted criminals—meaning the percentage of persons convicted and imprisoned for a crime who go on to commit another crime after their release (often called repeat offenders). Such rates are sometimes used to determine the length of prison sentences. Criminal justice reform advocates often emphasize the role of rehabilitation in reducing recidivism rates.

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What are some other forms related to recidivism?

  • recidivist (noun, adjective)
  • recidivistic (adjective)
  • recidivous (adjective)

What are some synonyms for recidivism?

What are some words that share a root or word element with recidivism

What are some words that often get used in discussing recidivism?


How is recidivism used in real life?

Recidivism is typically used in serious contexts, especially in discussions about criminal justice.



Try using recidivism!

Is recidivism used correctly in the following sentence? 

This legislation is aimed at reducing the rate of recidivism among convicts who are on parole.

How to use recidivism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for recidivism

/ (rɪˈsɪdɪˌvɪzəm) /

habitual relapse into crime

Derived forms of recidivism

recidivist, noun, adjectiverecidivistic or recidivous, adjective

Word Origin for recidivism

C19: from Latin recidīvus falling back, from re- + cadere to fall
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