Definition of recidivist in US English:



  • A convicted criminal who reoffends, especially repeatedly.

    • ‘Most of us would rather spend that on health or education, but at the moment and in the short term the only way to keep offenders and recidivists off the streets is longer sentences.’
    • ‘James A. Johnston, the prison's first warden, believed that egoism was the chief failing of recidivists.’
    • ‘Yet it is at least as likely that many of those sentenced were recidivists who were threatening the good order and discipline of their armies in a time of national crisis.’
    • ‘Most paedophiles are, as the child abuse expert Dr W F Glaser of the University of Melbourne argues, ‘long-term recidivists.’’
    • ‘It's a logical response of a system which becomes frustrated with recidivists.’
    • ‘It is unlikely they would be lenient with someone they view as a recidivist.’
    • ‘Most people convicted of driving while disqualified are recidivists.’
    • ‘The families of recidivists have been characterised by greater conflict and less organisation.’
    • ‘People who come out of jail and can't get jobs do become recidivists and can't get married.’
    • ‘‘Their crimes,’ Chekhov remarks, looking at these supposedly hardened recidivists, ‘were no more clever and cunning than their faces.’’
    • ‘The long-term recidivists shouted long and loud about the invasion of personal freedom, about how life's little pleasures were quite rapidly being taken away.’
    • ‘Sometimes prisoners never seem to get free of the prison system and they become what society now refers to as recidivists.’
    • ‘Also, should prisoners who repeatedly commit crime spend a longer time behind bars simply because they're recidivists?’
    • ‘‘It just isn't accurate to say none of them show remorse and that they are all recidivists,’ she said.’
    • ‘The sample population upon which actuarial assessments of risk are based, includes among the recidivists both those who have received treatment and those who have not.’
    • ‘Youths in the treatment group were significantly less likely to be recidivists.’
    • ‘Only a handful of recidivists and unrepentant individuals convicted of major crimes against the faith were put to death.’
    • ‘Keep quiet about the 4,000 recidivists who run city streets, committing crimes with increasing bravado and little fear of punishment.’
    • ‘The men, all recidivists, would continue their violent behavior for 20, 30, or 40 years.’
    • ‘Drug offenders also seem to be the most likely recidivists, and represent the greatest threat of failure on probation and parole.’


  • 1Relating to recidivists.

    ‘the third lowest recidivist rate in the country’
    • ‘There has been continued debate within the literature regarding the effectiveness of legal sanctions to reduce recidivist drink driving compared with that of alternative countermeasures such as rehabilitation programs.’
    • ‘The recidivist record in the latter two cases is low, but as with alcoholism, no segment of the population is declared ‘cured.’’
    • ‘It would hardly be worth a full column to focus on his association's recidivist ideas, but this study is an all-time low.’
    • ‘Alcohol ignition interlocks have been proposed as a further intervention to reduce the prevalence of recidivist drink driving.’
    • ‘Not surprisingly prior firesetting and match play has been consistently found across most studies as one of the key predictors in recidivist firesetting.’
    • ‘I even reluctantly believe that the Government's current proposals to make previous convictions known to juries in child-abuse cases are justified, given the recidivist nature of paedophiles.’
    • ‘We certainly know that people who meet the diagnostic criteria for being a psychopath, have a very high risk of being violent and have a very high recidivist rate.’
    • ‘Turning first to Skinner, note that procreation had nothing to do with the crime in question, recidivist theft.’
    • ‘He said it was that plus the combination of recidivist and spree burglaries, all premeditated and all targeting people in their own homes, that warranted a jail term of seven years with the minimum four-year non-parole period.’
    • ‘There is a persuasive case for compulsory counselling for the parents of child offenders to run in concert with the existing programmes designed to prevent children from recidivist behaviour.’
    • ‘The possibility of recidivist behavior can be kept to a minimum through regular counseling sessions, Chang said.’
    • ‘We have heard time and time again about recidivist offending - people who commit an offence, go to jail, come out, commit another offence, and do so again and again and again.’
    • ‘In New Zealand the recidivist index showed that where people were released without parole, their rate of offending was twice the level of those who were released on parole.’
    • ‘As this condition is intertwined with recidivist criminality, any health-led strategy implies medicalisation of offending with no clear boundary between criminal justice and health services.’
    • ‘Today we have the phenomenon of recidivist murder committed by released killers.’
    1. 1.1 Denoting a person who repeatedly reoffends.
      ‘research reveals that murderers are less likely to be recidivist than other criminals’
      ‘the families of recidivist prisoners’
      • ‘Firstly, this Government passed the Sentencing Act 2002, which states that a recidivist child sex offender can receive preventive detention and be locked up, if necessary, for life.’
      • ‘Violent recidivist criminals should be permanently removed from society, perhaps by being put to work on an outlying New Zealand island.’
      • ‘What evidence does he have that new sentencing laws are providing greater protection to the community from serious and recidivist offenders?’
      • ‘The most promising indications regarding the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs have been for those interventions that have focused primarily on recidivist drink drivers.’
      • ‘But its problems with boy racers, recidivist teenage car thieves, drugs and child abuse made it as good a choice as any other provincial centre for the launch.’
      • ‘In addition, there could well be people whom the police are aware are recidivist offenders but, as it so happens, have not been caught for or convicted of an offence for 7 years.’
      • ‘The police have gone out and caught the recidivist burglars.’
      • ‘There are very good organisations like Safe Network in Auckland, run by John McCarthy, which deals with trying to rehabilitate and run programmes for recidivist sex offenders.’
      • ‘In conclusion, the main change that this bill introduces is the power to place recidivist child sex offenders under extended supervision for up to 10 years.’
      • ‘It means that if a recidivist parolee is given a 10-year sentence by the court, for instance, he or she will actually have to serve a 15-year sentence.’
      • ‘A recidivist drink-driver was up on another set of serious drink-driving charges, and the case was dismissed because of delays in the justice system.’
      • ‘The service's team manager, Juliet Yolland, said recidivist truants were typically missing between 60-80 percent of the 186-day school year.’
      • ‘A non-custodial sentence, by definition, is regarded as something that is imposed when the person is not a serious or recidivist offender.’
      • ‘We support anything that tries to get recidivist drink-drivers off the road.’
      • ‘Compulsory fitting of the alerting system was deemed acceptable, but only for new vehicles or recidivist speeders.’
      • ‘Much of the public support grew out of sympathy for Polly Klaas, a young girl who was kidnapped and murdered in California by a recidivist criminal.’
      • ‘The forecasts show that recidivist offenders are now more likely to be convicted, taken off the streets, and kept off the streets.’
      • ‘The number of remand prisoners was double the level of 9 years ago, because of the passage of the Bail Act, which is tougher on recidivist offenders who continue to offend while on bail.’
      • ‘I want to see these young, recidivist offenders locked up, as they should be.’
      • ‘However, last time we were there, she proved unexpectedly recidivist.’
      • ‘New South Wales has a lot of recidivist bank robbers.’
      non-practising, lacking faith, backsliding, apostate
      View synonyms


Late 19th century: from French récidiviste, from récidiver ‘fall back’, based on Latin recidivus ‘falling back’, from the verb recidere, from re- ‘back’ + cadere ‘to fall’.