The Oxford dict. interprets reciprocate as "experience the same (love, liking, or affection) for someone as that person does for oneself". For example, "her passion for him was not reciprocated."

I don't quite understand "for oneself" in this interpretation. It's easy for me to fall into the illusion that "the person (love, like) himself/herself."

So, what does "for oneself" mean here?

  • 3
    Macmillan's definition is clearer, in my opinion: "to have the same feelings toward someone that they have for you". This avoids the clumsy oneself.
    – user230
    Feb 1, 2014 at 2:02
  • 1
    @snailplane: Agreed. OP's definition is clumsy phrasing from someone who presumably didn't like the "informality" of you, and hence mistakenly sacrificed clarity for adherence to an outmoded concept of formal phrasing. Feb 1, 2014 at 19:03

1 Answer 1


When a feeling is reciprocal:

  1. Person A has that feeling for Person B.
  2. Person B has that feeling for Person A.

In other words, they have the same feeling toward each other.

Let's annotate the definition so we can see which words refer to Person A and which words refer to Person B:

[A] experience(s) the same (love, liking, or affection) for someone[B] as that person[B] does for oneself[A]

Here, oneself refers to the (missing) subject of the sentence, Person A.

It does not refer back to person B.

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