Definition of recessive in US English:



  • 1Genetics
    Relating to or denoting heritable characteristics controlled by genes that are expressed in offspring only when inherited from both parents, i.e., when not masked by a dominant characteristic inherited from one parent.

    Often contrasted with dominant
    • ‘Secondly; reductions in the available gene pool have almost always resulted in further proliferation of genetic disorders as recessive genes have a higher probability of combining.’
    • ‘Normally, people do not have one blue eye and one brown eye, or half brown hair and half blond hair because most genetic traits are the result of the expression of either the dominant or the recessive genes or alleles.’
    • ‘I suspect we shall see the resurgence of all sorts of recessive traits.’
    • ‘On occasion, families are observed where both parents have a recessive single gene disorder and yet have normal offspring.’
    • ‘Self-pollination in these strains was found to be controlled by duplicate, recessive genes.’
    • ‘In so-called recessive disorders, such as sickle cell disease, your child needs to inherit two bad copies of the gene - one from each parent - to develop the disease.’
    • ‘Short hair being dominant over long, breedings between shorthair and longhair cats will produce only shorthair kittens, unless the shorthair parent is carrying the recessive gene for long hair.’
    • ‘It would operate like inbreeding, which increases the odds of offspring inheriting the same deleterious recessive allele from both parents.’
  • 2Undergoing an economic recession.

    ‘the recessive housing market’
    • ‘In a transition period, however, this may lead to a recessive pressure on the economy.’
    • ‘The real growth was 1.6% in a recessive global economic climate.’
    • ‘In order to stimulate a recessive economy and pay for the cost of escalating welfare programs, Congress will add to the national debt.’
    • ‘Despite the recessive market we face, we are optimistic that more business will be done than last year.’
    • ‘The recessive 1930s brought the reversal of this globalism while a new one was later formed during the Cold War.’
    • ‘There are a number of ways in which financial planning can pay off, even in a recessive economy.’
  • 3Phonetics
    (of the stress on a word or phrase) tending to fall on the first syllable.

    • ‘In modern English all the disyllabic and trisyllabic words have only recessive stress, e.g. colour, marriage.’


  • A recessive trait or gene.

    • ‘Almost all mutants were found to behave as simple Mendelian recessives.’
    • ‘Thus deleterious recessives had not been eliminated from the population to the extent that consanguineous matings were harmless in terms of offspring viability.’
    • ‘Instead selection causes the same increase in allele frequency in both dominants and recessives, at least early on when the fates of nearly all alleles are determined.’
    • ‘If two of these recessives meet in an individual, their version of the trait will be expressed.’
    • ‘But regardless of why most incompatibilities act as recessives, the present results leave little doubt that they do.’


Late 17th century: from recess, on the pattern of excessive.