Definition of recess in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈrēˌses/
Pronunciation: /rə-ˈses/


1A small space created by building part of a wall further back from the rest: a table set into a recess
More example sentences
  • With its metal projections and angles, wooden recesses and thin walls it has a serendipitous quality.
  • The library has shelves built into the inner recesses of the walls to house the king's collection of books.
  • The bed mechanisms can also be built into recesses framed into a wall.
1.1A hollow space inside something: the concrete block has a recess in its base
More example sentences
  • It is as smooth as the outside, and the only machining marks I can find are deep in the recess around the base pin hole.
  • The material feature of this claim is that the ball should have such a diameter that it projects above the recess in which it sits but can move freely inside the recess.
  • Place the hinge leaf in the mortise and position the self-centering tool in the countersink recesses of the hinge.
alcove, bay, niche, nook, corner, hollow, oriel
1.2 (usually recesses) A remote, secluded, or secret place: the recesses of the silent pine forest figurative the dark recesses of his soul
More example sentences
  • There are all kinds of heroes, working silently in remote recesses of our country.
  • Many things have changed since then; sadly, the cultural shift has not penetrated into the darkest recesses of some areas of employment.
  • Some actors are born to play the hero and others exist to illuminate the darker recesses of the human soul.
innermost parts/reaches, remote places, secret places, heart, depths, bowels
2A period of time when the proceedings of a parliament, committee, court of law, or other official body are temporarily suspended: talks resumed after a month’s recess the Senate was in recess
More example sentences
  • It starts in August when Parliament, like football, is in recess, the law courts go to sleep and a lot of us are on holiday.
  • He has so far rejected demands for a recall of parliament, currently in recess.
  • After all, Congress has been in recess for over a month.
2.1chiefly North American A break between school classes: the mid-morning recess
More example sentences
  • School classes break for outdoor recess every forty-five minutes.
  • In fact, I was pretty sure that the latest romances were the major topics of the staffroom at recesses and lunchtime breaks.
  • At recess one day her teacher taught the class how to play hopscotch on the cement basketball court outside.
adjournment, break, interlude, interval, rest;
vacation, holiday, spring break
informal breather


1 [with object] (often as adjective recessed) Attach (a fixture) by setting it back into the wall or surface to which it is fixed: recessed ceiling lights
More example sentences
  • The room also has part-tiled walls and recessed ceiling lighting.
  • The kitchen has dark slate flooring, exposed ceiling beams, recessed spot lights and a central island with cooker and gas hob.
  • The yellow-walled kitchen is bright and airy and features recessed ceiling lighting.
2 [no object] chiefly North American (Of formal proceedings) be temporarily suspended: the talks recessed at 2:15
More example sentences
  • Philippine government chief negotiator Jesus Dureza said talks, which will recess for two days, could last until Aug.3.
  • The fourth round of talks recessed in Beijing earlier this month.
  • At 9.20 am the court recessed to await the doctor's arrival.
2.1 [with object] Suspend (such proceedings) temporarily.
Example sentences
  • California's Legislature is due to recess its two-year session Aug.31.
  • The tournament was recessed so everyone could rest and eat.
  • The judge recesses the trial, sending the jury off to deliberate.
2.2(Of an official body) suspend its proceedings for a period of time.
Example sentences
  • His actions allowed a vote to occur before the 95th Congress recessed.
  • No compromise could be reached before Congress recessed, forcing lawmakers to pass a stopgap measure to continue funding at current levels.
  • In the final days before Congress recessed for the national elections, we were still unsure what debt-relief funding Congress would agree to.
adjourn, take a recess, stop, pause, break, take a break
informal take five, take a time out


Mid 16th century (in the sense 'withdrawal, departure'): from Latin recessus, from recedere 'go back' (see recede). The verb dates from the early 19th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: re·cess

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