re·course | \ˈrē-ˌkȯrs, ri-ˈkȯrs\

Definition of recourse 

1a : 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 : the right to demand payment from the maker or endorser of a negotiable instrument (such as a check)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for recourse


expedient, resort, resource

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of recourse in a Sentence

The dispute was settled without recourse to law. a toddler quickly learns that a tantrum is a surefire recourse when a polite request for something is met with parental indifference

Recent Examples on the Web

The only recourse for proponents of the brothel elimination measure is to get county commissioners to agree to put it on the ballot — seemingly a long shot at this point. David Montero,, "Effort to close brothels in one Nevada county fails to get enough signatures for ballot," 3 July 2018 California may have little legal recourse in blocking the construction of camps on federal land to house undocumented immigrant families should the Trump administration move forward, an East Bay congressman said Thursday. Sarah Ravani,, "East Bay congressman says California limited in blocking Trump detention centers," 28 June 2018 The last recourse for Eno and others with unsatisfied debts has been trying to garnish Tully’s bank accounts — what Eno’s lawyer describes as an exercise in frustration. Lewis Kamb, The Seattle Times, "Ex-store manager was awarded $120,585 after she was fired by Tully’s, so where’s the money?," 30 May 2018 For now, brands’ only legal recourse is to try to go after the companies listing the counterfeit goods on Amazon, rather than pursuing a legal strategy against Amazon itself. Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, "Amazon May Have a Counterfeit Problem," 20 Apr. 2018 Davis said censure was the only recourse allowed under law for the council. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "Dayton council censures colleague after allegations from city employee," 17 Apr. 2018 Even if a company chooses to change its policy for all users, only those covered by the GDPR – so, those in the E.U. – will have legal recourse. Alix Langone, Time, "How the E.U.’s New Online Privacy Law Could Benefit Users Everywhere," 22 May 2018 Any recourse for small business, say, suddenly, gets hit with barrage -- there's 10,000 taxing jurisdictions that do sales taxes. Fox News, "Trump escalates trade war tensions with tariff threat," 24 June 2018 Democrats, in short, have little to no recourse against Trump’s judge picks. Claire Zillman, Fortune, "Think President Trump Is About to Remake the Federal Judiciary? To Some Degree, He Already Has," 8 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'recourse.' 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 recourse

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about recourse

Dictionary Entries near recourse








Statistics for recourse

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for recourse

The first known use of recourse was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for recourse



English Language Learners Definition of recourse

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


re·course | \ˈrē-ˌkȯrs \

Kids Definition of recourse

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


re·course | \ˈrē-ˌkōrs, ri-ˈkōrs \

Legal Definition of recourse 

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 : 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

Note: 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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on recourse

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


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!