1809, "place in a recess," literal or figurative, from recess (n.). By 1845 as "make a recess in." Intransitive sense of "take a recess, adjourn for a short time" is by 1893. Related: Recessed; recessing.
1530s, "act of receding or going back or away" (a sense now obsolete), from Latin recessus "a going back, retreat," from recessum, past participle of recedere "to go back, fall back; withdraw, depart, retire," from re- "back" (see re-) + cedere "to go" (from PIE root *ked- "to go, yield").
Meaning "hidden or remote part" is recorded from 1610s; that of "period of stopping from usual work" is from 1620s, probably from parliamentary notion of "recessing" into private chambers. Meaning "place of retirement or seclusion" is from 1630s; that of "niche, receding space or inward indentation in a line of continuity" is from 1690s.
1640s, "act of receding, a going back," from French récession "a going backward, a withdrawing," and directly from Latin recessionem (nominative recessio) "a going back," noun of action from past-participle stem of recedere "to go back, fall back; withdraw, depart, retire," from re- "back" (see re-) + cedere "to go" (from PIE root *ked- "to go, yield").
The sense of "temporary decline in economic activity" was a fall-of-1929 coinage, probably a noun of action from recess (v.):
The material prosperity of the United States is too firmly based, in our opinion, for a revival in industrial activity — even if we have to face an immediate recession of some magnitude — to be long delayed. [Economist, Nov. 2, 1929]
Ayto ("20th Century Words") notes, "There was more than a hint of euphemism in the coining of this term."
also cess-pool, "cistern or well to receive sediment or filth," 1670s, the first element perhaps an alteration of cistern, or perhaps a shortened form of recess [Klein]; or the whole may be an alteration of suspiral (c. 1400), "drainpipe," from Old French sospiral "a vent, air hole," from sospirer "breathe," from Latin suspirare "breathe deep" [Barnhart]. Meaning extended to "tank at the end of the pipe," which would account for a possible folk-etymology change in final syllable.
Other possible etymologies: Italian cesso "privy" [OED], from Latin secessus "place of retirement" (in Late Latin "privy, drain"); dialectal suspool, from suss, soss "puddle;" or cess "a bog on the banks of a tidal river."
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to go, yield."
It forms all or part of: abscess; accede; access; ancestor; antecede; antecedent; cease; cede; cession; concede; decease; exceed; excess; incessant; intercede; necessary; precede; predecessor; proceed; recede; recess; recession; secede; secession; succeed; success.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit sedhati "to drive, chase away;" Avestan apa-had- "turn aside, step aside;" Latin cedere "to yield, give place; to give up some right or property," originally "to go from, proceed, leave;" Old Church Slavonic chodu "a walking, going," choditi "to go."
1670s, "tending to recede, going backward," from Latin recess-, past-participle stem of recedere "to go back, fall back" (see recede) + -ive. Linguistics sense in ancient Greek grammar is from 1879; in genetics, of a hereditary trait present but not perceptibly expressed in the individual organism, 1900, from German recessiv (Mendel, 1865). Related: Recessively; recessiveness.
mid-15c., ajournement, "act of postponing or deferring (a court, assembly, etc.)," from Old French ajornement "daybreak, dawn; summons (to appear in court)," from ajorner (see adjourn), with unetymological -d- added in English on the mistaken expectation of a Latin origin.
Adjournment is the act by which an assembly suspends its session in virtue of authority inherent in itself; it may be also the time or interval of such suspension. A recess is a customary suspension of business, as during the period of certain recognized or legal holidays .... Recess is also popularly used for a brief suspension of business for any reason: as, it was agreed that there be a recess of ten minutes. [Century Dictionary]
"inlet, recess in the shore of a sea or lake," c. 1400, from Old French baie, Late Latin baia (source of Spanish and Portuguese bahia, Italian baja), which is perhaps ultimately from Iberian (Celtic) bahia.
"vaulted recess," 1670s, from French alcôve (17c.), from Spanish alcoba, from Arabic al-qobbah "the vaulted chamber," from Semitic base q-b-b "to be bent, crooked, vaulted." The al- is the Arabic definite article, "the."
1610s, "shallow recess in a wall," from French niche "recess (for a dog), kennel" (14c.), perhaps from Italian nicchia "niche, nook," which is said to be from nicchio "seashell," itself said by Klein, Barnhart, etc. to be probably from Latin mitulus "mussel," but the change of -m- to -n- is not explained (Century Dictionary compares napkin from Latin mappa). Watkins suggests that the word is from an Old French noun derived from nichier "to nestle, nest, build a nest," via Gallo-Roman *nidicare from Latin nidus "nest" (see nidus), but that, too, has difficulties. The figurative sense is recorded by 1725. Biological use dates from 1927.