re·sil·ience | \ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s \

Definition of resilience 

1 : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress

2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

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Using Resilience Outside of Physics

In physics, resilience is the ability of an elastic material (such as rubber or animal tissue) to absorb energy (such as from a blow) and release that energy as it springs back to its original shape. The recovery that occurs in this phenomenon can be viewed as analogous to a person's ability to bounce back after a jarring setback. Author P. G. Wodehouse took note of this when he wrote: "There is in certain men … a quality of resilience, a sturdy refusal to acknowledge defeat, which aids them as effectively in affairs of the heart as in encounters of a sterner and more practical kind." The word resilience derives from the present participle of the Latin verb resilire, meaning "to jump back" or "to recoil." The base of resilire is salire, a verb meaning "to leap" that also pops up in the etymologies of such sprightly words as sally and somersault.

Examples of resilience in a Sentence

… the concert remained a remarkable tribute to Dylan's resilience and continued relevance. — Susan Richardson, Rolling Stone, 15 Dec. 1994 He squeezed the rubber with a clamp and then released it—demonstrating with this painfully simple experiment that the material lost its resilience and therefore its ability to flex rapidly enough to protect the rocket joint from tumultuous hot gases. — James Gleick, New York Times Book Review, 13 Nov. 1988 With amazing resilience the two tribes pulled together and set out to found a new town farther up the river. — Carolyn Gilman, American Indian Art Magazine, Spring 1988 It is really wonderful how much resilience there is in human nature. Let any obstructing cause, no matter what, be removed in any way, even by death, and we fly back to first principles of hope and enjoyment. — Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897 The rescue workers showed remarkable resilience in dealing with the difficult conditions. Cold temperatures caused the material to lose resilience.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Rosenblatt also said the state was turning its attention to chronic back-bay flooding that was the root of much of Sandy damage, especially in the southern half of the state, and said the state is developing a regional resilience solution. Amy S. Rosenberg,, "Margate beaches not 'ruined,' experts say," 27 June 2018 Twitter’s stock struggled after going public in 2013, and analysts are apparently still not convinced of the stock’s resilience. Hallie Detrick, Fortune, "Twitter Stock Pops Even Higher on News That It Will Replace Monsanto on the S&P 500," 5 June 2018 Fears has been serving as the special assistant to the president and senior director for resilience policy at the National Security Council. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Trump names Douglas Fears new homeland security adviser," 2 June 2018 The forum will give the public an opportunity to review key information collected through this climate change resilience planning process. Jennifer Fenn Lefferts,, "Arlington to hold public forum on climate change," 30 May 2018 Here are more things to know about the ice hockey event in the Mojave: COACHING CROWN The winning coach also will raise the Stanley Cup for the first time in a fitting peak to two careers built on resilience. Greg Beacham, The Seattle Times, "Capitals, Golden Knights in improbable Stanley Cup Final," 27 May 2018 India ranks low on its defense networks in Asia, while Japan's resilience and military capability are below its middle power neighbors. Ben Westcott, CNN, "US stands tall as Asia's most powerful country despite rising China," 8 May 2018 Sometimes high schoolers and their family members just need someone to listen to them or help them form a plan, said Margarita Davis-Boyer, the other resilience specialist at Vaux. Kia Gregory, The Root, "Philadelphia’s Housing Authority Bought a High School: What Does That Mean for One of the City’s Poorest Neighborhoods?," 2 May 2018 Tree regeneration is a sign of a forest’s resilience. Christopher Solomon, Outside Online, "Climate Change, Wildfire, and the Future of Forests," 18 Apr. 2018

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

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First Known Use of resilience

1807, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for resilience

see resilient

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Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

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The first known use of resilience was in 1807

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English Language Learners Definition of resilience

: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens

: the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.


re·sil·ience | \ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s \

Medical Definition of resilience 

1 : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress

2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change emotional resilience

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More from Merriam-Webster on resilience

Spanish Central: Translation of resilience

Nglish: Translation of resilience for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of resilience for Arabic Speakers

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