re·​sil·​ience | \ ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s How to pronounce resilience (audio) \

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 Is that a price worth paying for greater resilience in our economy? Lucy Meakin,, "Coronavirus Reveals Risks to U.K. Supply Chains Before Brexit," 19 May 2020 Birmingham is a city known for its struggles, but it is celebrated for its resilience. al, "Sen. Jones, Mayor Randall Woodfin has a message for high school, college seniors," 26 Apr. 2020 As China set the bar for restrictions early in the pandemic, Italy set one for resilience — especially its balcony singalongs and daily applauses for essential workers mimicked worldwide. Washington Post, "New York’s Italian Americans, now at U.S. epicenter, relive the heartache felt as virus ravaged families overseas," 13 Apr. 2020 The need for economic resilience will be added to the arguments against breaking up the biggest tech companies. The Economist, "Less globalisation, more tech The changes covid-19 is forcing on to business," 8 Apr. 2020 Thank you for your resilience, agility and commitment. Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter, "WarnerMedia to Create $100 Million Relief Fund for Crews," 27 Mar. 2020 How should people who live near the coasts be preparing their neighborhoods for resilience? Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "The Nature of Crisis," 26 Mar. 2020 And so this is a story about resilience and love and the difference one person can make. Georgea Kovanis, Detroit Free Press, "A few unexpected words gave a drug addict a new life," 27 Nov. 2019 The resilience of viruses is what has made them such a menace throughout history, from flu pandemics to outbreaks of Ebola. NBC News, "Why are viruses hard to kill? Virologists explain why these tiny parasites are so tough to treat," 7 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for resilience

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The first known use of resilience was in 1807

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Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Resilience.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for resilience


How to pronounce resilience (audio)

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 How to pronounce resilience (audio) \

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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