back·lash | \ ˈbak-ˌlash \

Definition of backlash 

1a : a sudden violent backward movement or reaction

b : the play between adjacent movable parts (as in a series of gears) also : the jar caused by this when the parts are put into action

2 : a snarl in that part of a fishing line wound on the reel

3 : a strong adverse reaction (as to a recent political or social development)

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from backlash

backlasher noun

Examples of backlash in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The school is taking action after the pizza chain's founder, John Schnatter, reportedly complained that Kentucky Fried Chicken's Colonel Sanders never faced a backlash for using a racial slur. Houston Chronicle, "Louisville football stadium removing Papa John's name," 13 July 2018 Buy Photo Mayor Kenney faced a backlash from progressives on Thursday, as police officers bike-dozed a modest encampment of protesters trying to shut down access to a local office for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Chris Brennan,, "Did Philly police just bike-doze Mayor Kenney's relationship with progressives?," 5 July 2018 Taylor Hill Getty Images Scarlett Johansson is facing backlash after news of her latest role as a transgender man in an upcoming film from 21st Century Fox production house New Regency. Aric Jenkins, Fortune, "Scarlett Johansson's Casting as a Transgender Man Highlights an Industry-Wide Problem," 5 July 2018 The nonprofit is facing backlash from activists and politicians, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Mark Collette, Joshua Fechter And Bill Lambrecht, San Antonio Express-News, "Companies earn billions to shelter immigrant children," 29 June 2018 The White woman who pretended to call the police on an eight-year-old Black girl who was selling water outside her home is facing severe backlash for her actions. Paula Rogo,, "Oh Well! Woman Who Called The Cops On Black Girl Selling Water Says Backlash Is Hurting Her Marijuana Business," 26 June 2018 The case brought additional scrutiny to the Mesa Police Department, which has faced backlash for its use of force in other high-profile episodes. Uriel J. Garcia, azcentral, "Charges dropped against Robert Johnson, man brutally beaten by Mesa police," 14 June 2018 Drinking straws have been around for more than 5,000 years, but the plastic version is facing a modern backlash. Lorraine Mirabella,, "More eateries, businesses do away with plastic straws," 13 July 2018 Paul, 23, faced backlash earlier this year after one of his videos featured the body of an apparent suicide victim in a Japanese forest. Rebecca Farley,, "Chloe Bennet Explains Why She's Dating Controversial YouTuber Logan Paul," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'backlash.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of backlash

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about backlash

Dictionary Entries near backlash

back judge





back line


Statistics for backlash

Last Updated

10 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for backlash

The first known use of backlash was in 1815

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for backlash



English Language Learners Definition of backlash

: a strong public reaction against something

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on backlash

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


by word of mouth

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!