Definition of recursive in English:



  • 1Characterized by recurrence or repetition.

    • ‘What I am saying is that it is inherently recursive (it operates on the products of its own operation).’
    • ‘Liberals want to change the third variable, but this is somewhat recursive.’
    • ‘Society was looking at itself too much already, was caught in recursive loops, and could more or less do this blindfolded.’
    • ‘For people such as us, who are obsessed with the recursive nature of signs, it is like a series of mirrors reflecting each other into a distorted infinitude of mixed interpretations and intentions.’
    • ‘Politically negotiated opinions, informed and uninformed, expert and otherwise, are important factors in the recursive social policy process of analysis, formation and implementation.’
    • ‘Attempting to cure poverty by increasing the minimum wage is thus somewhat recursive.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This may well be true, but it's somewhat recursive: value investing (like efficient markets) only works as long as a lot of people don't think it works.’
    • ‘Here is the recursive bit that really caught my interest.’
    • ‘It is, unfortunately, a recursive game, providing opportunities for learning from past mistakes.’
    • ‘The end goal is that comments about a story enrich that story and that the process is recursive i.e. comments can be about comments, eventually providing an ecology of news.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In other words, the recursive action of fictional analysis reconstructs and reconfigures the power of the word through learning about text.’
    • ‘And if you had a universe-sized computer, it could run all kinds of recursive worlds; it could, for instance, simulate an entire galaxy.’
    • ‘So perhaps the solution lies in some recursive synthesis of the two - if change is sexier/more useable/better, then maybe it'll meet less resistance.’
    • ‘Somehow this is clever, because it's recursive.’
    1. 1.1Mathematics 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's hard for me to believe that any creature could develop anything much like human language without at least some limited form of recursive compositionality.’
      • ‘He studied consistency of arithmetic, proving that formal arithmetic with recursive definitions is consistent.’
      • ‘A class of mathematical problems is called recursive if there is an algorithm for finding the answer in each individual case.’
    2. 1.2Computing 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Providing recursive queries to arbitrary IP addresses on the internet exposes a name server to both cache poisoning and denial of service attacks.’
      • ‘With the latest security holes, the programs are vulnerable only when acting as recursive name servers.’
      • ‘A recursive function is one that calls itself, often over and over again.’


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.