[ ri-sip-ruh-kuhl ]
See synonyms for: reciprocalreciprocals on

  1. given or felt by each toward the other; mutual: reciprocal respect.

  2. given, performed, felt, etc., in return: reciprocal aid.

  1. matching; corresponding; equivalent: reciprocal privileges at other health clubs.

  2. Grammar. (of a pronoun or verb) expressing mutual relationship or action: “Each other” and “one another” are reciprocal pronouns.

  3. inversely corresponding; opposing: reciprocal muscles in your back.

  4. Mathematics. noting expressions, relations, etc., involving reciprocals: a reciprocal function.

  5. Navigation. bearing in a direction 180° to a given direction; back.

  1. something that is reciprocal to something else: Faith and fear are reciprocals.

  2. Also called multiplicative inverse. Mathematics. the ratio of unity to a given quantity or expression; that by which the given quantity or expression is multiplied to produce unity: The reciprocal of x is 1/x.

Origin of reciprocal

First recorded in 1560–70; from Latin reciproc(us) “returning, reciprocal” + -al1

synonym study For reciprocal

1. See mutual.

Other words from reciprocal

  • re·cip·ro·cal·i·ty [ri-sip-ruh-kal-i-tee], /rɪˌsɪp rəˈkæl ɪ ti/, re·cip·ro·cal·ness, noun
  • re·cip·ro·cal·ly, adverb
  • non·re·cip·ro·cal, adjective, noun
  • un·re·cip·ro·cal, adjective

Words that may be confused with reciprocal

Words Nearby reciprocal Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use reciprocal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for reciprocal


/ (rɪˈsɪprəkəl) /

  1. of, relating to, or designating something given by each of two people, countries, etc, to the other; mutual: reciprocal friendship; reciprocal trade

  2. given or done in return: a reciprocal favour

  1. (of a pronoun) indicating that action is given and received by each subject; for example, each other in the sentence they started to shout at each other

  2. maths of or relating to a number or quantity divided into one

  3. nautical denoting a course or bearing that is 180° from the previous or assumed one

  1. something that is reciprocal

  2. Also called: inverse maths a number or quantity that when multiplied by a given number or quantity gives a product of one: the reciprocal of 2 is 0.5

Origin of reciprocal

C16: from Latin reciprocus alternating

Derived forms of reciprocal

  • reciprocality, noun
  • reciprocally, adverb

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

Scientific definitions for reciprocal


[ rĭ-sĭprə-kəl ]

  1. Either of a pair of numbers whose product is 1. For example, the number 3 is the reciprocal of 13.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for reciprocal


The number by which a given number must be multiplied to get a result of one. The reciprocal of one-half, for example, is two.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.