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While thinking about good antonyms for reckless, I noticed there’s no reckful nor any reck in English, for that matter. So, what would that reck be?

Etymonline offers the following scrap:

rece, recce “care, heed” from reccan “to care”

A very pretty word, and I’d love to learn more about it. When did it die out? Did it differ subtly from care as careless differs from reckless, with special connotations? How was it pronounced? Did it function just like care or did it have its own set of prepositions for use in various contexts?

Could it be used in role of “tender care”, related to love? “I recce for thee”?

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“Only the Teleri beyond the mountains still sang upon the shores of the sea; for they recked little of seasons or times, and gave no thought to the cares of the Rulers of Arda, or the shadow that had fallen on Valinor, for it had not touched them, as yet.” ―J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion – tchrist Jan 30 '13 at 13:10
The other recce: a reconnaissance mission. – Hugo Jan 30 '13 at 18:53
Yes, Hugo. That is used in a military context. – Tristan Jan 30 '13 at 23:25
A question for these who vote to close this as general reference, can you point me to which general reference resource contains the answers to my questions (these asked below the quote), specifically about the old form, "recce", not modern "reck"? – SF. Jan 31 '13 at 6:56
@tchrist though any citation from Tolkien can be considered a bad data-point as far as usage goes. Of the top of my head, wrack (outside of the cranberry collocation "wrack and ruin), wicca (before Gardner's writings on the modern form of witchcraft with that spelling, but modern pronunciation), lampads (anywhere except some translations of Revelations). He deliberately used obscure or obsolete words, precisely because they're no longer used. – Jon Hanna Feb 16 '13 at 15:47
up vote 4 down vote accepted

There is reck in English, though perhaps not in common usage these days.

The Oxford English Dictionary has:

From its earliest appearance in English, the verb is almost exclusively employed in negative or interrogative clauses. In the former the simple negative may be replaced by nought, nothing, little, not much, etc.; in the latter, the pronoun what is most usual. Now chiefly arch. and literary.

  1. intr. With of. In Old and early Middle English also with genitive.

a. To take care or thought for or notice of something, along with inclination, desire, or favour towards it, interest in it, etc.; to think (much, etc.) of.

b. To take notice of or be concerned about something, so as to be alarmed or troubled by it, or so as to modify one's behaviour or purposes on account of it.

The latter definition would seem to be where reckon stems from.

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Elendil should know the Silmarillion. :) – tchrist Jan 30 '13 at 13:10


verb /rek/  recked, past participle; recked, past tense; recking, present participle; recks, 3rd person singular present
Pay heed to something
- ye reck not of lands or goods
- little recking where she was wandering
- he recks not Syria, recks not Britain
It is of importance
- what recks it?
verb: mind, care, heed

Alternative forms
reak (obsolete)
Derived terms


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Someone was itching to down vote again. – Kris Jan 31 '13 at 6:02

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