Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun re·course \ˈrē-ˌkȯrs, ri-ˈ\

Simple Definition of recourse

  • : an opportunity or choice to use or do something in order to deal with a problem or situation

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of recourse

  1. 1 a :  a turning to someone or something for help or protection <settled the matter without recourse to law> b :  a source of help or strength :  resort <had no recourse left>

  2. 2 :  the right to demand payment from the maker or endorser of a negotiable instrument (as a check)

Examples of recourse in a sentence

  1. The dispute was settled without recourse to law.

  2. <a toddler quickly learns that a tantrum is a surefire recourse when a polite request for something is met with parental indifference>

Origin and Etymology of recourse

Middle English recours, from Anglo-French recurs, from Late Latin recursus, from Latin, act of running back, from recurrere to run back — more at recur

First Known Use: 14th century

RECOURSE Defined for Kids


noun re·course \ˈrē-ˌkȯrs\

Definition of recourse for Students

  1. :  someone or something that can be turned to for help or protection

Law Dictionary


noun re·course \ˈrē-ˌkōrs, ri-ˈkōrs\

Legal Definition of recourse

  1. 1a :  the act of turning to someone or something for assistance especially in obtaining redress b :  a means to a desired end especially in the nature of a remedy or justice; also :  the end itself

  2. 2 :  the right or ability to demand payment or compensation; specifically :  the right to demand payment from the endorser or drawer of a negotiable instrument — see also recourse note at note — compare non-recourse

Additional Notes on recourse

Under Article 3 of the Uniform Commercial Code, the phrase without recourse on a negotiable instrument limits the liability of the endorser or drawer. If an endorsement states that it is made without recourse, the endorser is not liable to pay, subject to various conditions, if the instrument is dishonored. Similarly, if a draft states that it is drawn without recourse, the drawer is not liable to pay, subject to various conditions, if the draft is dishonored, provided that it is not a check.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up recourse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a secret group of plotters

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which is a synonym of asperse?

beat placate divulge defame
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.