From Latin recessus.



recess (countable and uncountable, plural recesses)

  1. (countable or uncountable) A break, pause or vacation.

    Spring recess offers a good chance to travel.

  2. An inset, hole, space or opening.

    Put a generous recess behind the handle for finger space.

  3. (US, Australia, Canada) A time of play during the school day, usually on a playground; (Britain) break, playtime.
    Students who do not listen in class will not play outside during recess.
  4. A decree of the imperial diet of the old German empire.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Brande & C to this entry?)
  5. (archaic) A withdrawing or retiring; a moving back; retreat.

    the recess of the tides

    • 1698, Robert South, Twelve Sermons upon Several Subjects and Occasions
      every degree of ignorance being so far a recess and degradation from rationality
    • 1649, Charles I of England, Eikon Basilike
      My recess hath given them confidence that I may be conquered.
  6. (archaic) The state of being withdrawn; seclusion; privacy.
    • 1713, Matthew Hale, The History of the Common Law of England
      In this recess of the jury, they are to consider their evidence
    • 1695, John Dryden (translator), Observations on the Art of Painting by Charles Alphonse du Fresnoy
      Good verse recess and solitude requires.
  7. (archaic) A place of retirement, retreat, secrecy, or seclusion.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 10”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:

      Departure from this happy place, our sweet
      Recess, and onely consolation left

  8. A secret or abstruse part.
    the difficulties and recesses of science
    (Can we find and add a quotation of I. Watts to this entry?)
  9. (botany, zoology) A sinus.


Derived terms[edit]



recess (third-person singular simple present recesses, present participle recessing, simple past and past participle recessed)

  1. To inset into something, or to recede.

    Wow, look at how that gargoyle recesses into the rest of architecture.

    Recess the screw so it does not stick out.

  2. (intransitive) To take or declare a break.

    This court shall recess for its normal two hour lunch now.

    Class will recess for 20 minutes.

  3. (transitive, informal) To appoint, with a recess appointment.
    • 2013, Michael Grunwald, “Cliff Dweller”, in Time, ISSN 0040-781X, volume 181, number 1, 2013 January 14, page 27:
      To the National Rifle Association’s delight, the Senate has hobbled the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives by failing to confirm a director since 2006, but Obama hasn’t made a recess appointment. [] “The President’s view of his own power is a constrained one,” says White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler. “Many of his nominees have languished, but he’s only recessed the ones that were critical to keep agencies functioning.”
  4. To make a recess in.

    to recess a wall




  1. (obsolete, rare) Remote, distant (in time or place).
    • 1632, Thomas Salusbury, Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems:

      I should think it best in the subsequent discourses to begin to examine whether the Earth be esteemed immoveable, as it hath been till now believed by most men, or else moveable, as some ancient Philosophers held, and others of not very recesse times were of opinion;




recess c

  1. a decision, an agreement, a return (to previous conditions)
  2. a recess, a niche




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