[ri-sid-uh-viz-uh m]


repeated or habitual relapse, as into crime.
Psychiatry. the chronic tendency toward repetition of criminal or antisocial behavior patterns.

Nearby words

  1. recharge,
  2. rechargeable,
  3. recherche,
  4. recherché,
  5. recidivate,
  6. recidivist,
  7. recife,
  8. recip.,
  9. recipe,
  10. recipience

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

Related formsre·cid·i·vist, noun, adjectivere·cid·i·vis·tic, re·cid·i·vous, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for recidivist

  • But the keeping of recidivist records is only one part of the business of the Criminal Record Office.

    Scotland Yard|George Dilnot
  • The consequence is that he falls away and rejoins his old companions and soon becomes a recidivist.

    A Plea for the Criminal|James Leslie Allan Kayll

British Dictionary definitions for recidivist



habitual relapse into crime
Derived Formsrecidivist, 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

Word Origin and History for recidivist
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for recidivist




A person who relapses, especially by returning to criminal behavior.




A tendency to lapse into a previous pattern of behavior, especially a pattern of criminal habits.
The relapse of a disease or symptom.recidivation

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.