[ ri-sip-ruh-key-shuhn ]
/ rɪˌsɪp rəˈkeɪ ʃən /
Save This Word!

an act or instance of reciprocating.
a returning, usually for something given.
a mutual giving and receiving.
the state of being reciprocal or corresponding.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of reciprocation

First recorded in 1520–30, reciprocation is from the Latin word reciprocātiōn- (stem of reciprocātiō). See reciprocate, -ion
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does reciprocation mean?

Reciprocation is the act of reciprocating—doing something in response to an action in a way that corresponds or is somehow equivalent to that action.

Reciprocation can also refer to a specific instance of doing this, as in This gift is reciprocation for all your support. 

A much more informal way of saying this is returning the favor.

Reciprocation is often positive. For example, when you are shown affection by a loved one, you can reciprocate (or show reciprocation) by showing affection back. When someone does you a favor, you can reciprocate by doing something nice for them. However, reciprocation can also be negative. For example, if someone insults you, your reciprocation may take the form of insulting them back or doing something else to get back at them.

Actions or relationships involving reciprocation can be described as reciprocal. The related word reciprocity often refers to a reciprocal state or relation, or to the mutual exchange of things. Reciprocation can be used as a synonym for these senses of reciprocity.

Example: I thought my neighbors’ help with my garden deserved reciprocation, so I made dinner for them.

Where does reciprocation come from?

The first records of the word reciprocation come from the 1500s. Its base word, reciprocate, comes from the Latin verb reciprocāre, meaning “to move back and forth.”

Reciprocation involves a type of back-and-forth, typically one involving a relationship between two people or two groups. The word is most commonly associated with favors, kind gestures, and displays of emotion that are done in response to similar actions, as in I was relieved at her reciprocation when I shared my feelings with her. But reciprocation can be a form of retaliation, as in The military is on alert for reciprocation after the missile strike.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to reciprocation

What are some synonyms for reciprocation?

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

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

How is reciprocation used in real life?

Reciprocation is a somewhat formal word. Acts of reciprocation can be either positive or negative.



Try using reciprocation!

Which of the following actions is NOT an example of reciprocation?

A. responding to someone’s message
B. giving someone a gift after receiving one from them
C. ignoring someone who has tried to contact you
D. returning a favor

How to use reciprocation in a sentence