[ree-sahy-kuh l]
verb (used with object), re·cy·cled, re·cy·cling.
  1. to treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse: recycling paper to save trees.
  2. to alter or adapt for new use without changing the essential form or nature of: The old factory is being recycled as a theater.
  3. to use again in the original form or with minimal alteration: The governor recycled some speeches from his early days.
  4. to cause to pass through a cycle again: to recycle laundry through a washing machine.
verb (used without object), re·cy·cled, re·cy·cling.
  1. to pass through a cycle again; repeat a process from the beginning.
  2. to undergo reuse or renewal; be subject to or suitable for further use, activity, etc.: The industry will recycle and become profitable once more.
  1. the act or process of recycling.

Origin of recycle

First recorded in 1925–30; re- + cycle
Related formsre·cy·cla·ble, adjectivere·cy·cla·bil·i·ty, nounre·cy·cler, re·cy·clist, nounnon·re·cy·cla·ble, adjectiveun·re·cy·cled, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for recyclability


verb (tr)
  1. to pass (a substance) through a system again for further treatment or use
  2. to reclaim (packaging or products with a limited useful life) for further use
  3. to institute a different cycle of processes or events in (a machine, system, etc)
  4. to repeat (a series of operations)
  1. the repetition of a fixed sequence of events
Derived Formsrecyclable or recycleable, adjective, 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 recyclability



1922, originally of industrial processes; see re- + cycle (v.). Specifically of waste material from 1960. Related: Recycled; recycling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper