The reason why I'm asking this question is because all the main online dictionaries provide the same meaning for this word, that is: a person who receives something. They don't mention objects used to store something, like water, for example.

Isn't a bottle a recipient used to store liquids?

If we go to Google images and type "water recipient" it shows us a lot of bottles.

Cambridge definition for recipient:

a person who receives something

a person or organization that receives something, such as money, a prize, etc.

2 Answers 2


A recipient, as your definition states, is normally a person or an organisation. You may be after the similar word receptacle.

A container, device, etc., that receives or holds something


As in:

Please take a receptacle to the water fountain.

A "water recipient" to me would be a person who is given water. But it sounds quite formal, and I would only expect to hear it in situations like emergency aid.

5000 water recipients have benefited from our emergency bottled water program.

  • Thank you. I don't know what to do because I've been studying English for a decade or so and I still make this kinda mistakes sometimes. I was revising a text I wrote in 2017 and I noticed this word there and I thought I should verify it could actually mean a "container". But it can't.
    – Pierre.A
    Nov 5, 2019 at 13:21
  • Don't worry, even native speakers can confuse similar sounding works like recipient and receptacle!
    – Showsni
    Nov 5, 2019 at 15:29

Yes, recipient can be used for objects, for example, in chemistry.

Khan Academy (about chemical bonds):

In general, the loss of an electron by one atom and gain of an electron by another atom must happen at the same time: in order for a sodium atom to lose an electron, it needs to have a suitable recipient like a chlorine atom.

Wikipedia (about reducing agents)

If any chemical is an electron donor (reducing agent), another must be an electron recipient (oxidizing agent).

  • Thank you, so it can actually refer to objects but not in the sense of a "container", right?
    – Pierre.A
    Nov 5, 2019 at 13:26
  • Yes, exactly. Container "holds" something, and recipient "receives" something. Anyway, "recipient" is not commonly used for objects in everyday life; it's a technical term used in chemistry, physics, biology, etc.
    – Jan
    Nov 5, 2019 at 13:37

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