The Meaning of Reciprocity: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of reciprocity? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word reciprocity, including its definition, usage, word origin, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word reciprocity mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and sources like American Heritage and Collins English Dictionary, the word reciprocity is a noun that refers to some mutual dependence, exchange of rights, action or influence being in a reciprocal condition, the specifically, a mutual exchange of privileges in which two two countries or institutions recognize the validity of licenses or privileges granted by the other. In legal terms, the word reciprocity refers to the recognizing the license of an attorney or lawyers from another state without the necessity of taking the local state’s bar examination. 

Reciprocity is also  a term in social psychology. According to Study, the principle of reciprocity is when something is given to you in the hopes that you will feel compelled, or even obligated, to do something in return. For example, if you are given a free sample, you might be more likely to buy the product. The three types of reciprocity are generalized reciprocity, balanced reciprocity, and negative reciprocity. Overall, as a social construct, reciprocity asserts that people are frequently much nicer and likely to perform kind actions and friendly actions than predicted by the self-interest model, but are also more likely to perform hostile actions in response to rudeness. It is interesting to study this social construct as it related to social relationships and another social norm. Reciprocity is five syllables – rec-i-proc-i-ty, and the pronunciation of reciprocity is ˌrɛsɪˈprɒsɪtɪ.

The word reciprocity also exists in many other languages. You may notice that some of these are very similar to the word reciprocity, because they have similar origins. Reciprocity is a word that is Latin in origin, as are many other languages, so they will often have similar roots and therefore similar words. This list of translations of reciprocity is provided by Word Sense.

  •  French: réciprocité‎ (fem.)
  •  Volapük: rezip‎
  •  Greek: αμοιβαιότητα‎ (fem.)
  •  Romanian: reciprocitate‎ (fem.)
  •  German: Gegenseitigkeit‎ (fem.), Reziprozität‎ (fem.), Umkehrbarkeit‎ (fem.)
  •  Russian: взаи́мность‎ (fem.)
  •  Hebrew: הֲדָדִיּוּת‎
  •  Lithuanian: savitarpis‎ (masc.)

How can the word reciprocity be used in a sentence?

The word reciprocity can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definition. You can also try making flashcards and quizzes to test your knowledge of different definitions! Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. Below are several examples of reciprocity to get you started.

After some persuasion, the Princeton University student started a homework exchange with his straight-A friend. In this state of reciprocity, the friend completed all of their math and science assignments while the student did English and history.

The airlines had a reciprocal agreement with their partnered hotels. Customers could earn quadruple the amount of credit card points if they chose to stay at a partnered hotel rather than the other options. 

While the two students were extremely competitive and did not like each other, they practiced the rules of reciprocity and were civil to each other as long as the other one was.

The man’s behavior was outside the norm of reciprocity. He was horrible to everyone –  his family, assistant, and coworkers – no matter how nice they were to him. Nothing seemed to make him happy.

What are synonyms and antonyms of reciprocity?

There are many different words that mean the same thing as the word reciprocity, which are called synonyms. Synonyms and words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you want to expand your vocabulary or if you want to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word reciprocity is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  transposition
  •  quid pro quo
  •  shuffle
  •  exchange
  •  cooperation
  •  transaction
  •  correspondence
  •  trade
  •  interrelation
  •  barter
  •  rearrangement
  •  truck
  •  interdependence
  •  shift
  •  tit for tat
  •  mutuality
  •  reciprocality
  •  transfer
  •  reciprocation
  •  switch
  •  dealing
  •  deal
  •  interchange
  •  revision
  •  castling
  •  supplanting
  •  change
  •  transposing
  •  commutation
  •  replacement
  •  conversion
  •  swap
  •  substitution
  •  network
  •  supplantment
  •  buying and selling
  •  traffic
  •  shuffling
  •  commerce

There are also many words and phrases that mean the opposite of the word reciprocity. These are called antonyms. Antonyms are also very useful to know in order to expand your knowledge of the English language and to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word reciprocity is also provided by Thesaurus

  •  asperity
  •  roughness
  •  contrast
  •  unevenness
  •  injustice
  •  imparity
  •  unjustness
  •  unfairness
  •  disproportion
  •  disparity
  •  diversity
  •  dissimilarity
  •  difference
  •  preferentiality
  •  bias
  •  inequality
  •  dissimilitude
  •  partisanship
  •  unequivalence
  •  one-sidedness
  •  prejudice
  •  variation
  •  irregularity
  •  incommensurateness
  •  discrimination

What is the origin of the word reciprocity?

According to Etymonline, the word reciprocity has been in use since 1766 (c18), and comes from the French réciprocité, an 18c word. This comes from réciproque and reciproque, from the Latin reciprocus, which is the past participle of reciprocare, a Latin verb meaning to rise and fall or reverse the motion of. Reciprocity was used specifically to refer to the equality of commercial privileges between the subjects of different governments by 1782. Related words include reciprocal (adj.) and the 1650s word reciprocality.

Overall, the word reciprocity refers to the cooperative interchange of favors. In international relations, this can refer to an effective strategy for the privileges of trade. This policy of unrestricted reciprocity is often supported by liberals in a General Assembly. In social psychology, reciprocity states that one will meet positive action with positive action and negative action with negative action.


  1. Reciprocity: Meaning, Origin, Translations | Word Sense
  2. reciprocity | Origin and meaning of reciprocity | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  3. RECIPROCITY Synonyms: 5 Synonyms & Antonyms for RECIPROCITY | Thesaurus 
  4. INEQUALITY Synonyms: 36 Synonyms & Antonyms for INEQUALITY | Thesaurus 
  5. Reciprocity | Definition of Reciprocity | Merriam-Webster 
  6. Reciprocity: Definition, Principle & Types – Video & Lesson Transcript | Study