A recessive gene is a gene that can be masked by a dominant gene. In order to have a trait that is expressed by a recessive gene, such as blue eyes, you must get the gene for blue eyes from both of your parents.

You might remember the word recessive from biology, where it most often appears. Its opposite is dominant and is always living in its shadow. A recessive allele has to team up with another recessive allele in order to show up. We can also use recessive to describe something that has the tendency to withdraw or recede, or something pertaining to an economic recession.

Definitions of recessive
  1. adjective
    of or pertaining to a recession
    synonyms: recessionary
  2. noun
    an allele that produces its characteristic phenotype only when its paired allele is identical
    synonyms: recessive allele
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    type of:
    allele, allelomorph
    (genetics) either of a pair (or series) of alternative forms of a gene that can occupy the same locus on a particular chromosome and that control the same character
  3. adjective
    (of genes) producing its characteristic phenotype only when its allele is identical
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    (of genes) producing the same phenotype whether its allele is identical or dissimilar
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