late 14c., recreacioun, "refreshment or curing of a person, refreshment by eating," from Old French recreacion (13c.), from Latin recreationem (nominative recreatio) "recovery from illness," noun of action from past participle stem of recreare "to refresh, restore, make anew, revive, invigorate," from re- "again" (see re-) + creare "create" (from PIE root *ker- (2) "to grow"). Meaning "refresh oneself by some amusement" is first recorded c. 1400.
A verb recreate "to refresh by physical influence after exertion" is attested from 15c. and was used by Lyly, Pope, Steele, and Harriet Martineau, but it did not take, probably to avoid confusion to the eye with the recreate (re-create) that means "create anew." Hence also recreation (re-creation) "a new creation, regeneration" (early 15c.); "act of creating anew" (1520s).