Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To move back or away from a limit, point, or mark: waited for the floodwaters to recede.
  • intransitive v. To slope backward.
  • intransitive v. To become or seem to become fainter or more distant: Eventually, my unhappy memories of the place receded.
  • intransitive v. To withdraw or retreat.
  • transitive v. To yield or grant to one formerly in possession; cede (something) back.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To move back, to move away.
  • v. To cede back; to grant or yield again to a former possessor.
  • v. To take back.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To move back; to retreat; to withdraw.
  • intransitive v. To withdraw a claim or pretension; to desist; to relinquish what had been proposed or asserted.
  • transitive v. To cede back; to grant or yield again to a former possessor.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To move back; retreat; withdraw; fall away.
  • To withdraw an affirmation, a belief, a demand, or the like; turn back or aside.
  • To have a backward inclination, slope, or tendency: as, a receding coast-line; a receding chin.
  • To cede back; grant or yield to a former possessor: as, to recede conquered territory.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. become faint or more distant
  • v. retreat
  • v. pull back or move away or backward

Etymologies

Middle English receden, from Old French receder, from Latin recēdere : re-, re- + cēdere, to go.
re- + cede.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French receder, from Latin recedere ("to withdraw; to go back"), from re- with cedere ("to go"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The Court is unwilling, however, to recede from the position announced in its repeated decisions.

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  • According to these proxies, the climatic evolution of East Africa over the past 150 years (‘modern climate†™) is characterized by a drastic dislocation around 1880, when lake levels dropped notably and glaciers started to recede from the latest maximum extent.

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  • It required an effort for her to recede from the comfortable habit of thought she had attained to the point of view from which the aspirations of the soul had appeared of more importance than the satisfactions of the body.

    The Miller of Old Church

  • Charles II was forced to recede from the French alliance by his Parliament in 1674.

    The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 12

  • The change is not in God, but in the circumstances which regulate God's dealings: just as we say the land recedes from us when we sail forth, whereas it is we who recede from the land (Eze 18: 21; 33: 11).

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

  • It's getting a lot of attention in the world of new media, mainly because Epstein spends a couple of its chapters (previously published in The New York Review of Books) discussing the opportunities now offered by digital technology to do what he has been trying to do throughout his career: resuscitate serious publishing and bookselling, and America's literary life itself, even as the material essence of those institutions — paper and ink — begins to recede from the world.

    The Believer

  • He often expanded his poetic rhapsodies on the sex life of plants with prose footnotes that also ascribe a wide range of intentionality and emotion to the plant kingdom: The vegetable passion of love is agreeably seen in the flower of the parnassia, in which the males alternately approach and recede from the female; and in the flower of nigella, or devil in the bush, in which the tall females bend down to their dwarf husbands.

    The Loves of Plants and Animals: Romantic Science and the Pleasures of Nature

  • It will also be remembered when despatches of a somewhat irritating character, passed between the Governments of the United States and Great Britain with regard to the celebrated Trent affair that Her Majesty revised the despatch which Lord John Russell proposed to send to the Government of the United States, and suggested certain modifications in the language used by Lord John Russell, which enabled the Government of the United States to recede from the position it had taken in this matter without loss of dignity.

    The Place of the King in the British Constitution

  • The feather'd nations shed a floating shade; part of the tail on the right side of the fish strikes the water at the same time that another oblique plain strikes it on the left side, hence in respect to moving to the right or left these percussions of the water counteract each other, but they coincide in respect to the progression of the fish; this power seems to be better applied to push forwards a body in water, than the oars of boats, as the particles of water recede from the stroke of the oar, whence the comparative power acquired is but as the difference of velocity between the striking oar and the receding water.

    Canto II

  • So they're still waiting for that river to recede, which is really just a glorified creek, but now rushing torrent and has been the last couple of days.

    CNN Transcript Sep 24, 2009

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