Word curio icon

Word Curio

January 26, 2020

Word of the Day: Reciprocate

1 CQ

Word of the Day : April 17, 2017

reciprocate \rih-SIP-ruh-kayt\ verb


1 : to give and take mutually

2 : to return in kind or degree

3 : to make a return for something done or given

4 : to move backward and forward alternately


It was kind of Jake to give us a ride to the airport, and we'd like to find a way to reciprocate the favor.

"The covenant only works if each partner, as best as possible, puts the other's needs above his or her own, with the understanding that the other will reciprocate." — David Brooks, The New York Times, 7 Mar. 2017

Did You Know?

Reciprocate, retaliate, requite, and return all mean "to give back," usually in kind or in quantity. Reciprocate implies a mutual or equivalent exchange or a paying back of what one has received ("We reciprocated their hospitality by inviting them to our beach house"). Retaliate usually implies a paying back of an injury or offense in exact kind, often vengefully ("She retaliated by spreading equally nasty rumors about them"). Requite implies a paying back according to one's preference, and often not in an equivalent fashion ("He requited her love with cold indifference"). Return implies simply a paying or giving back ("returned their call" or "return good for evil").

Aired April 17, 2017

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max
Amanda M
In a sentence: "Why did Li'l Sebastian even run off?" "I dunno. Maybe he tried to share his true feelings with someone and they DIDN'T RECIPROCATE." My fellow Parks and Rec fans know what I'm saying.
Revlon F
Good use of the word!
500 characters max