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late 15c., "act of detailing," from Old French récitation (14c.) and directly from Latin recitationem (nominative recitatio) "public reading, a reading aloud," noun of action from past participle stem of recitare (see recite). Meaning "act of repeating aloud" is from 1620s; that of "repetition of a prepared lesson" is first recorded 1770, American English.