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recess Line breaks: re¦cess
Pronunciation: /rɪˈsɛs/

Definition of recess in English:


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.
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/secret places, dark corners, heart, inner sanctum, interior;
informal innards
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 Parliament 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, intermission, respite, temporary closure, temporary cessation of business;
informal breather, time out


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1 [with object] (often as adjective recessed) Attach (a fitment) 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 (formal proceedings) temporarily: the trial was recessed for the weekend
More 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: Parliament recessed for the summer on Tuesday
More 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, suspend proceedings, take a recess, break, stop, take a break
informal knock off, take five, take 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.

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