1

recoil

play
verb re·coil \ri-ˈkȯi(-ə)l\

Definition of recoil

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to fall back under pressure b :  to shrink back physically or emotionally

  3. 2 :  to spring back to or as if to a starting point :  rebound

  4. 3 obsolete :  degenerate

Examples of recoil in a sentence

  1. We recoiled in horror at the sight of his wounded arm.

  2. He recoiled from her touch.

  3. The rifle recoiled and bruised my shoulder.

Origin and Etymology of recoil

Middle English reculen, recoilen, from Anglo-French reculer, recuiler, from re- + cul backside — more at culet


First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of recoil

recoil, shrink, flinch, wince, blench, quail mean to draw back in fear or distaste. recoil implies a start or movement away through shock, fear, or disgust <recoiled at the suggestion of stealing>. shrink suggests an instinctive recoil through sensitiveness, scrupulousness, or cowardice <shrank from the unpleasant truth>. flinch implies a failure to endure pain or face something dangerous or frightening with resolution <faced her accusers without flinching>. wince suggests a slight involuntary physical reaction (as a start or recoiling) <winced in pain>. blench implies fainthearted flinching <stood their ground without blenching>. quail suggests shrinking and cowering in fear <quailed before the apparition>.

2

recoil

play
noun re·coil \ˈrē-ˌkȯi(-ə)l, ri-ˈkȯi(-ə)l\

Definition of recoil

  1. 1 :  the act or action of recoiling; especially :  the kickback of a gun upon firing

  2. 2 :  reaction <the recoil from the rigors of Calvinism — Edmund Wilson>

Examples of recoil in a sentence

  1. The gun has a sharp recoil.

14th Century

First Known Use of recoil

14th century


RECOIL Defined for English Language Learners

1

recoil

play
verb re·coil \ri-ˈkȯi(-ə)l\

Definition of recoil for English Language Learners

  • : to quickly move away from something that is shocking, frightening, or disgusting : to react to something with shock or fear

  • of a gun : to move back suddenly when fired


2

recoil

play
noun re·coil \ˈrē-ˌkȯi(-ə)l, ri-ˈkȯi(-ə)l\

Definition of recoil for English Language Learners

  • : the sudden backward movement of a gun that happens when the gun is fired


RECOIL Defined for Kids

1

recoil

play
verb re·coil \ri-ˈkȯil\

Definition of recoil for Students

recoiled

recoiling

  1. 1 :  to draw back <He recoiled in horror.>

  2. 2 :  to spring back to or as if to a starting position <The rifle recoiled upon firing.>


2

recoil

play
noun re·coil

Definition of recoil for Students

  1. :  a sudden backward movement or springing back (as of a gun just fired)



Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a harsh rebuke

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • hot-dog--hot-dog--hot-dog--hot-dog-cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ