Definition of recursive in English:

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Pronunciation: /rɪˈkəːsɪv/


1Characterized by recurrence or repetition, in particular:
Example sentences
  • The community's crisis of violence is reflected in a recursive narrative pattern, shaped out of repetitions and returns of the repressed memories of white violence in slavery.
  • Every mystery is contained inside another one like a Russian doll but one where each shell is the same size as the last, a recursive puzzle.
  • What I am saying is that it is inherently recursive (it operates on the products of its own operation).
1.1 Mathematics & Linguistics Relating to or involving the repeated application of a rule, definition, or procedure to successive results: this restriction ensures that the grammar is recursive
More example sentences
  • He studied consistency of arithmetic, proving that formal arithmetic with recursive definitions is consistent.
  • She published papers on mathematical logic, recursive function theory, and theoretical computer science.
  • Kleene's research was on the theory of algorithms and recursive functions.
1.2 Computing Relating to or involving a program or routine of which a part requires the application of the whole, so that its explicit interpretation requires in general many successive executions: a recursive subroutine
More example sentences
  • With the latest security holes, the programs are vulnerable only when acting as recursive name servers.
  • An expression could invoke recursive functions or entire subprograms, for example.
  • It also prevents device driver writers from having to handle recursive interrupts, which complicate programming.



Pronunciation: /rɪˈkəːsɪvli/
Example sentences
  • Now he's released a new essay, which is, recursively enough, about the art of the essay itself.
  • Self-regulated learners engage recursively in a cycle of cognitive activities as they work through a given task.
  • Okay, you will now program it iteratively, not recursively.


Late 18th century (in the general sense): from late Latin recurs- 'returned' (from the verb recurrere 'run back') + -ive. Specific uses have arisen in the 20th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: re|cur|sive

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