Word: reciprocate

Pronunciation: ri-SI-prə-kayt

Part of Speech: verb


  1. respond to (a gesture or action) by making a corresponding one
  2. experience the same (love, liking, or affection) for someone as that person does for oneself

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Here’s another of my favorite words. Unlike several others featured in my vocabulary segment, this is one I use all the time. It may be partly the sound of the word “reciprocate” that I like, but I think I appreciate it mostly for its connection to Math (a subject that I always loved in school). I was using the related word “reciprocal” in mathematical contexts long before I learned the similar verb that could be used in my other passion of storytelling, and you can only imagine how my writing took off when I finally discovered it.

To “reciprocate” a gesture is to return it in equal measure, while to “reciprocate” someone’s emotions is to feel the same way about that person as they feel about you. The word comes from the Latin verb reciprocare, meaning “to move backwards and forwards”. The definition of this word is somewhat easy to remember as it contains the roots re- “back” and pro- “forth”.

I usually use the word “reciprocate” to indicate the returning of a gesture from one character to another, the gesture in most cases being a smile. Of course, I’ve also found a place for it in romantic stories for characters who share equal feelings toward each other. Apparently, the word also works as an adjective in the form “reciprocating” to describe a part of a machine that moves backward and forward in a straight line, but I much prefer it as a verb. It’s a good word to keep in mind if you write plenty of interactions, so use it well along with all the others, and your readers will be more likely to “reciprocate” the respect you show them by giving them a good story to enjoy!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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