1

recoil

verb re·coil \ ri-ˈkȯi(-ə)l \
Updated on: 1 Dec 2017

Definition of recoil

intransitive verb
1 a : to fall back under pressure
b : to shrink back physically or emotionally
2 : to spring back to or as if to a starting point : rebound
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.

Recent Examples of recoil from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of recoil

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

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 (such 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

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

Definition of recoil

1 : the act or action of recoiling; especially : the kickback of a gun upon firing
2 : reaction
  • the recoil from the rigors of Calvinism
  • —Edmund Wilson

Examples of recoil in a Sentence

  1. The gun has a sharp recoil.

Recent Examples of recoil from the Web

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

First Known Use of recoil

14th century


RECOIL Defined for English Language Learners

recoil

verb

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


recoil

noun

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

verb re·coil \ ri-ˈkȯil \

Definition of recoil for Students

recoiled; recoiling
1 : to draw back
  • He recoiled in horror.
2 : to spring back to or as if to a starting position
  • The rifle recoiled upon firing.

2

recoil

noun

Definition of recoil for Students

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


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