What Is a Reciprocal?

The reciprocal of a quantity is the result of dividing 1 by that quantity.

Reciprocal of 5 is 1 over 5

Dictionary Definition

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a reciprocal as "based on an inverse relationship."

Real Examples of Reciprocals

The reciprocal can't be found for numbers, letters and more complicated quantities, like terms and expressions.

Type of Quantity Quantity Reciprocal
Numbers 2 1 over 2
3 1 over 3
8 1 over 8
Letters a 1 over a
x 1 over x
Terms 2x 1 over 2 x
t squared 1 over t squared
Expressions x + 1 1 over x plus 1
a plus b 1 over a


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Reciprocals of Fractions

To find the reciprocal of a fraction, 1 is divided by the fraction.

Dividing 1 by a fraction turns the fraction upside down.

Read more about how to find the reciprocal of a fraction

See Also

What is a term? What is an expression? What is a fraction? What is an exponent?